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The Indo-US Nuclear Deal

The Indo-US Nuclear Deal

TestFunda ,  18-Nov-08

Stakeholders: India, the USA, IAEA, NSG, George W. Bush, the UPA government


·         On July 18, 2005, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh introduced the India-U.S. Nuclear Deal in a joint statement, during the former’s visit to India.

·         The deal proposed to end the suspension of nuclear trade between the two countries and boost India’s civilian nuclear energy program.

Key Points

·         The deal met with stiff opposition in the Indian Parliament. The ruling UPA government showed signs of backing out of the deal when the Left parties threatened to pull out of the ruling coalition.

·         Eventually, the deal was approved by the parliament after the government won a “vote of no confidence” moved by the opposition.

·         India signed a safeguards agreement with the IAEA placing all nuclear material and equipment imported from the United States under safeguards. In August 2008, the IAEA's Board of Governors approved an India-specific safeguards agreement.

·         In September 2008, the NSG approved the India-specific exemption.

·         On October 1, 2008, the U.S. Congress approved the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, ending the three-decade suspension of nuclear trade between the two countries. The deal is especially significant to international nonproliferation efforts. 

·         The deal not only helps India's civilian nuclear energy program but also expands into cooperation between the two countries in various fields, including space and satellite technology.

Terms of the Deal

·         India agrees to separate its civilian and military nuclear program and put 14 of its 22 reactors under IAEA safeguards. These reactors would also be open to inspection by IAEA officials.

·         India promises to place all future civilian thermal and breeder reactors permanently under IAEA safeguards.

·         There are to be no restrictions on India building nuclear facilities for civilian or military purposes as per national requirements in the future.

·         All military facilities and stockpiles of nuclear fuel that India has at present are exempt from inspections or safeguards.

·         India agrees to stand by its commitment to freeze the testing of nuclear weapons and to intensify the security of its present arsenal.

·         It also agrees to prevent the proliferation of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that don't have these technologies and to support international nonproliferation efforts.

·         U.S. companies will be permitted to build nuclear reactors in India and supply fuel for its civilian nuclear energy program.

·         Approval by the Nuclear Suppliers Group has also removed the obstacles that prevented other countries from making nuclear fuel and technology sales to India.

·         India will have access to the U.S. dual-use nuclear technology and the materials and equipment to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium. It would also be able to import fuel for its nuclear reactors.

·         India is not required to sign the NPT.

Support for the Deal

·         The deal recognizes India as a responsible nuclear power and brings it closer to the U.S. in addressing issues of common interest, such as fighting terrorism.

·         An alliance with the world’s largest democracy will help the U.S. check the rise of China as the most dominant force in Asia.

·         It will make India open to the idea of accepting international safeguards on its nuclear facilities, which were previously closed to inspection.

·         It recognizes the fact that India has voluntarily imposed safeguards on its nuclear program for over three decades and that it has a clean record on proliferation.

·         It will encourage India to continue behaving responsibly and become an ally in the battle against proliferation.

·         India depends heavily on imported oil to meet its energy needs. Nuclear fuel is necessary to fire India’s rapidly growing economy.

·         Less reliance on fossil fuels will mean that India will contribute less to climate change.

·         U.S. based companies will now be allowed to build nuclear reactors in India and supply fuel for its civilian nuclear energy program.

Opposition to the Deal

·         The safeguards do not apply to the fissile material produced by India over the last several years of nuclear activity prior to the deal. In the absence of full safeguards, there is no way to ascertain that India will not divert this stockpile to its nuclear weapons program.

·         At a time when all major nuclear powers are looking to limit their production, the deal does not require India to limit fissile material production.

·         The deal does not put a cap on the number of nuclear weapons India plans to produce.

·         Efforts could have been put into improving India’s other energy resources rather than transferring nuclear technology that could be used for peaceful as well as harmful purposes.

·         Many members of the Parliament of India see the deal as a threat to the country’s sovereignty and security.

·         The deal could make the NPT redundant, as India is not required to be a signatory. Without additional barriers separating India’s civilian and military nuclear programs, there are chances that Indian companies may pass on nuclear technology to other countries.

·         Countries like Russia and China would be encouraged to bend the rules to extend nuclear technology to countries hostile to the U.S.

·         It could impair the United States plans to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

·         The fact that Pakistan has not received a similar deal from the U.S. could intensify the rivalry between the two South Asian neighbors. Pakistan might be encouraged to seek a similar deal from China.

More Links

·         The U.S.-India Nuclear Deal: The Right Approach?

·         What does Indo-US nuclear deal mean?

Group Discussion Topics

1.       Is the nuclear deal beneficial to India?


·         It provides access to imported fissile material and will go a long way in meeting India’s increasing energy requirements.

·         India will depend less on importing fossil fuels like oil and coal. The use of nuclear energy will also mean that India will contribute less to global issues, such as climate change.

·         India will have access to the latest nuclear technology from the U.S. and the NSG, including the U.S. dual-use nuclear technology.

·         India will get access to Canada’s CANDU reactors. These reactors allow direct breeding of thorium, a mineral abundantly available in India.

·         India will be able to buy technology such as SONAR and advanced computers for weather predictions.

·         We get access to biotechnology, which can be used to improve public health and promote agriculture growth.

·         Improved ties between India and the U.S. will help both countries deal with issues like international terrorism.

·         It ends over 30 years of nuclear isolation and recognizes India as a responsible nuclear state.

·         India can now hope to counter China’s growing dominance in Asia.

·         It strengthens India’s case for permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council.


·         Committing to stick to its self-imposed moratorium on further nuclear tests is as good as India signing the CTBT.

·         Opening its reactors to IAEA inspection makes India a de facto signatory of the NPT.

·         The imported fissile material will solve only a fraction of India’s energy requirements. It would be far more beneficial to increase energy efficiency and to look for alternate sources of energy.

·         It could lead to friction with Pakistan, which could look to China to receive a similar deal. An arms race in the subcontinent is a distinct possibility.

·         It could hamper India’s relations with China, which is fast replacing the U.S. as India’s biggest trade partner.

·         India may be expected to side with the U.S. in its efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program. India has had amicable relations with Iran in the past and is even now discussing the construction of a pipeline to pipe gas from Iran to India.

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