James ActonNSG Exemption (Take 2)

The Arms Control Association has the revised text for India’s draft NSG exemption. I thought it might be fun to compare, word for word, the old text with the new.

It wasn’t (I got rather obsessive about it). However, I hope it might prove useful for some of you.

Apart from lots of fiddling the two drafts are fairly similar. The most significant changes are the addition of text about consultation and information exchange, and the removal of a reference of the need for clean energy. Given the opposition to the original draft, I would be surprised if the new draft was enough to satisfy the deal’s critics.

Anyway, here are the fruits of my labour:

1. At the _____ pPlenary meeting on ______ the Participating Governments of the Nuclear Suppliers Group agreed that they:

a. dDesire to contribute to an the effectiveness and integrity of the global non-proliferation regime, and to the widest possible implementation of the provisions and objectives of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons;

b. sSeek to limit avert the further spread of nuclear weapons;

c. wWish to pursue mechanisms to affect positively the nonproliferation commitments and actions of those all states outside the traditional nuclear nonproliferation regimes; and

d. sSeek to promote fundamental principles of safeguards and export controls for nuclear transfers for peaceful purposes.

e. recognize the world’s need for clean and reliable sources of energy for sustained growth and prosperity

2. In this respect, Participating Governments have taken note of steps that India has taken voluntarily taken as a contributing partner in the non-proliferation regime and they welcome India’s efforts with respect to the following nonproliferation commitments and actions:

a. Deciding to separate its civilian nuclear facilities in a phased manner and to file a declaration regarding its civilian nuclear facilities with the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA, in accordance with its Separation Plan (circulated as INFCIRC/731);

b. Conducting Concluding negotiations with the IAEA and obtaining approval of its by the Board of Governors on 1 August 2008 for an “Agreement between the Government of India and the IAEA for the Application of Safeguards to Civilian Nuclear Facilities,” regarding a Safeguards Agreement for application of safeguards to civilian nuclear facilities that is in accordance with IAEA standards, principles, and practices (including IAEA Board of Governors dDocument GOV/1621);

c. Committing to sign and adhere to an Additional Protocol with respect to India’s civil nuclear facilities;

d. Refraining from transferring of enrichment and reprocessing technologyies to states that do not already possess these have them and supporting international efforts to limit their spread;

e. Having adopted Insituting a national export control system capable of effectively controlling transfers of multilaterally controlled nuclear and nuclearrelated material, equipment, and technology.;

f. Harmonizing its export control lists and guidelines with those of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and committing to adherence to NSG the Nuclear Suppliers Group gGuidelines;

g. Continuing its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testsing, and declaring its readiness to work with others towards the conclusion of a multilateral Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.

3. In view of the Based on the commitments and actions mentioned above, Participating Governments have adopted the following policy on civilian nuclear cooperation by Participating Governments with the IAEA-safeguarded Indian civilian nuclear program:

a. Notwithstanding paragraphs 4(a), 4(b) and 4(c ) of InfcircNFCIRC/254 (/Rev. 9) /Part 1, Participating Governments may transfer trigger list items and/or related technology to India for peaceful purposes and for use in IAEA safeguarded civilian nuclear facilities, provided that the transfer satisfies all other provisions of INFCIRC/254/Part 1, as revised.

b. Notwithstanding paragraph 4(a) and 4(b) of the INFCIRC/254/Rev.7/Part 2 guidelines, Participating Governments may transfer nuclear-related dualuse equipment, etc. materials, software and related technology to India for peaceful purposes and for use in civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, provided that the transfer satisfies all other provisions of INFCIRC/254Part 2, as revised.

c. At each Plenary, Participating Governments shall notify each other of approved transfers to India of Annex A and B items listed in INFCIRC/254/Part 1, as revised. Participating Governments are also invited to exchange information, including about their own bilateral agreements with India.

cd. Participating Governments shall will maintain contact and consult through regular channels, including the Consultative Group and Plenary, on matters connected with the implementation of the Guidelines, of this statement taking into account relevant international commitments and or bilateral agreements with India. With a view to intensification of dialogue and partnership with India, the Chairman is requested to confer and consult with India and keep the Plenary informed of these consultations.

e. In the event that one or more Participating Governments consider that circumstances have arisen which require consultations, Participating Governments will act in accordance with Paragraph 16 of the Guidelines.

4. In order to facilitate the efforts of non-member India’s adherentsce to InfcircNFCIRC/254/Parts 1 and 2 and to remain current in theirits implementation of the Guidelines, the NSG Chair is requested to review proposed amendments to the Guidelines with all non-member adherents on a non-discriminatory basis and solicit such comments on the amendments as a non-member adherent may wish to make India and inform the Plenary of the outcome of the dialogue with India. Participation of India in the decisions regarding proposed amendments will facilitate their implementation by India.

5. The NSG Point of Contact is requested to submit this sStatement to the IAEA DG Director General with a request that it be circulated to all Member States.


  1. Lao Tao Ren (History)


    This book is “free” and available online for download:

    Pakistan’s Nuclear Future: Worries beyond war

    Henry D. Sokolski (ed.)



    Pakistan is the invisible man in this debate.

  2. Pradeep

    You talk about India, in comes Pakistan. You talk about pakistan, in comes India. Surely some folks have all but one track erased from their records.
    One wonders why?

    Why dont we talk about the not so invisible proliferator in the region to the NE of India.

    In the end, the NSG waiver is as much about the world benefitting from Indian capabilities as India would benefit from access to cleaner forms of energy. Using that gambit to push through cold war type shackles on non-related items will be self-defeating.


  3. Lakshmipathi.G

    If this deal fails then india allowed to conduct Nuclear bombs without fear of NSG.
    Even today NSG can’t stop india from exploding bombs.
    This deal put “some restriction” on india to avoid nuclear testing.
    This great chance for world community to work with india
    and future this will allow india to sign NTP.
    There is small group of countries with little or no connection to
    actual nuclear trade – Austria, New Zealand, Ireland – with major exporters who stand to win billions of dollars of contracts if the India waiver goes through.

  4. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    Foreign Policy should never be primarily based on economic interests, but sometimes it is necessary to wield economic instruments to see to it that the proper thing gets done.

    The NSG anti-waiver leaders, Ireland, Austria, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland are under immense political and economic pressure from Indian and US interests to back down.

    China is potentially one of the biggest losers should a nuclear arms race break out in South Asia.

    The Indian Times (Sept.4) went so far as to call these six holdouts: “small countries have become sitting ducks for negative diplomacy by both India and the US”.

    It is time for China to stand up for these small countries, and counter whatever threats and economic sanctions threatened to be used on them with countervailing Chinese inducements.

    For example, if India threaten New Zealand’s access to the Indian market. So be it. Let Chinese buyers come in and make up twice the difference.

    China has the ability to neutralize certainly the economic and much of the political threats against these courageous small countries doing the right thing.

  5. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    Whether or not the waiver goes through, if India does test another nuclear bomb, it will become the anathema of the world and will not get an atom of uranium from any other nation for a very long time—not even from those nations blinded by dollar signs to the long term best interests of the global community. We should be grateful to the few small nations which have the strength of conviction and fortitude to stand up to the enormous pressure from the U.S. and India. The bottom line is that the deal is bad for nonproliferation and a few billion dollars of profits does not make it a good deal. Eliminating nuclear weapons is the most important issue in the world today.

  6. Mike (History)

    Mr. Roth wrote “The bottom line is that the deal is bad for nonproliferation and a few billion dollars of profits does not make it a good deal…”

    I would strongly disagree. This deal is very, very good for nonproliferation and if it is killed (as looks likely at this point), the blowback could very well wind up hurting nonproliferation efforts immensely.

    India, a country of over 1 billion people, has developed an indigenous reactor capability over the years. They have built reactors, they have experimented with the thorium fuel cycle and they are even moving towards fast reactor work – all on a budget that wouldn’t allow a bloated US DOE field office to survive on. They’ve done it all outside the NPT. If the NSG denies India’s efforts to work with them what do you think will happen? That this huge country full of motivated and intelligent men and women will slink off into a corner and dismantle their nuclear program? In the face of chronic power shortages? Really? Or might they not redouble their efforts in the area of the thorium cycle? Might not they work to deploy such a cycle and, after having been snubbed by the NSG, eventually sell such a fuel cycle internationally? You think Pu-239 makes a good driver for a nuclear warhead? Check out U-233 (bred from Th-232) and get back to me on that. By adhering to some hoary old treaty that was obsolete once the USSR collapsed, you may be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    Yes, India has built and detonated nuclear weapons. Yes, they did this after the NPT formalized (fossilized?) an “in crowd” of weapons states and excluded the rest of the world, all in the framework of a bi-polar world of US vs. USSR. Yes, nuclear weapons are bad. Yes, this argument of hypocrisy embedded in the NPT has been raging since it was drafted.

    Isn’t now the time to move forward with some, heaven forbid, creative thinking, some real work at building up ties and establishing trust in stages through new agreements? India would appear to be a perfect test case. India has not been accused of proliferating weapons tech. India has offered to work with the IAEA. These agreements might not be “perfect” in the eyes of the bureaucrats who have lorded over non-proliferation activities for decades, but perfection in the real world is non-existent. Here is a fleeting chance to build up ties with a weapons state that is outside the NPT, a chance to build bridges, a chance to maybe, some day find a way to move towards the goal of de-weaponization.

    Instead, the mandarins who drive non-proliferation policy will get their “victory.” And future generations will reap the whirlwind of that “win.”

  7. MK (History)

    Let’s focus on what truly matters. NSG members have previously agreed that profits are not to be gained when proliferation would result. The primary means of backing up this pledge is the consensus rule. The revised US draft would replace the consensus rule with information sharing. This slippery slope would lead not just to the functional demise of the NSG, but to significant erosion to the NPT itself, since the biggest potential profit takers happen to be permanent members of the UN Security Council.

  8. Pradeep

    “The bottom line is that the deal is bad for nonproliferation and a few billion dollars of profits does not make it a good deal…”
    The reality is that the failure of the deal is bad for real non-proliferation issues, but good for those who have made a living out of trying to go after the the wrong folks for whatever reasons.

    Sad but true.


  9. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    I fully agree that the NPT is obsolete and creates a double standard. I’ll even go so far as to say that the NWS are more than hypocritical; they have acted in bad faith under Article VI. However, I believe that creating a patchwork of ad hoc, one nation specific exemptions one at a time is not a creative long term solution. The entire nonproliferation and disarmament treaty regime should be renegotiated from scratch in light of modern realities, and it should encompass nuclear weapons, peaceful use, and the fuel cycle simultaneously.

  10. Lao Tao Ren (History)


    Let’s make it a broader treaty on all Weapons of Mass Destruction.

    Let’s start thinking about the environmental and economic consequences of, e.g., the use of large numbers of nuclear weapons on “neutral” states.

  11. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    Good idea!

  12. Mike (History)

    Mr. Roth, when you say “…I believe that creating a patchwork of ad hoc, one nation specific exemptions one at a time is not a creative long term solution…” then we are in far more agreement that I had first suppossed.

    I don’t regard this proposed deal with the NSG as ideal and agree with you completely that a new nonproliferation regime would be the best way to go about it. I do, however, think that such a on-off agreement with India would be a great way to “test drive” some of the particulars that might serve as the foundation for a new version of the NPT.

  13. Nitin (History)

    I’m pretty amused that no one is thinking how the NSG—-a non-treaty based cartel—-will survive if it does not give India a pass.

  14. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    The United State’s position is that the US-India Nuclear Agreement can be terminated either immediately upon an Indian Nuclear test, or upon 1 year’s notice.

    The answers to Congress state that the United States can request the return of any items transferred from the US, including fresh fuel upon termination.

    What if the Indians refuse to return the items from the US? Or the fuel?

    What if India demanded their money back (in full or in part)?

    Precisely how would the US retrieve these items over India’s objections?

    Will the US Marines be sent in to get it?

    How would an NSG member like Australia or Canada incorporate and operationalize such a provision ?

  15. D Cooper (History)

    Those against India getting any waiver claim to be doing so because they are scared of proliferation issues. The fact is, however, that they have been powerless to check the known proliferators in their midst. Does anyone have any doubts about how and where Pakistan and N Korea got their knowhow? Similarly where did Israel get the expertise? The Swiss PM recently admitted to having destroyed documents involving AQ Khan at the behest of a major power. Where were all these objectors and what did they do then? What could they do?

    Having done nothing and reduced the NTPT to a hypocritical, discriminatory piece of paper all they will achieve is to force India, in spite of a clean slate, to use means it considers necessary for its own benefit. NTPT or no NTPT. The sooner the whole treaty is thrown out and a fresh and practical approach is made the better.

  16. MT (History)

    @ Lao,

    why do you keep bringing china to the picture? I would love to debate with you in here ( if allowed, or somewhere else, I read each comments, and you sound a beijing mouthpice and not a messiah of arms control)

    Deal goes through or not, wont make much difference in reality, will it? India has long worked alone or with Russia to a good extent for its nuclear plants. No NSG will loose than gain. NSG’s clause is India should not detonate, if it were to join. What if India does not join and detonate? Best for NSG would be to include India and co-operate, discuss and seek support/consensues bilaterally or multilaterally to not detonate. China is ofcourse trying to muddy the waters, but in reality, India might detonate the next one, only if china does.

    If the deal fails, given the current polarity, India and Russia will forge a $100 bln deal, maybe not publicly, over the next 5 to 10 years. So NSG members should decide what it stands to loose, economically and politically. Interestingly though, look at the profile of the countries that are opposing, with china giving the cover for firing.

  17. Magoo Nair (History)

    Bruce A. Roth – The deception in this “deal” is of phenomenal levels. I for one know the shortage of Uranium is a manufactured device to get the Indian public to appreciate the “deal”. In reality India has sufficient Uranium and Thorium for its needs, albeit very badly managed!

  18. Sek


    I am from one of the holder States or the naysayers as they are called. What I can tell you is that Bruce is exactly right.

    People here understand fully that the NPT should be rethought and reworked. But the deal with India will flounder because both the US and India have been unwilling to go into that direction. Instead of entering into a discussion and proposing solutions as to how we should proceed with India and nonproliferation in a post India NSG decision, we have been submitted with a take it or leave it proposal that would spell out the end of the NPT with no replacement. The day we will be presented with a serious project that takes into account both the needs of India and the future of nonproliferation, we will start talking.

  19. Anon

    Every so often I read comments suggesting that the world needs a new nonproliferation regime or needs to renegotiate the NPT. That’s certainly an opinion, but I would strongly encourage those who hold it to acquaint themselves with the excruciatingly difficult negotiations that led to the treaty — which took place, in earnest, between 1965 and 1968 in the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee and other fora. The text of the treaty, warts and all, not only embodies points of agreement, but also contains vague language that papered over extreme points of disagreement. That’s the nature of international law and negotiations, and it’s not at all obvious that a renegotiated NPT or new nonpro regime would be better than what nations have cobbled together so far.

  20. Mike (History)


    I do understand that opinion and the concerns. My main concern is that the unintended consequences of snubbing India and this admittedly imperfect agreement will be worse than trying it. In my opinion, holding onto the status quo will actually harm the cause we all want to see succeed – nuclear nonproliferation and eventual nuclear disarmament. If India is snubbed, I do hope I am wrong here.

  21. RT (History)


    The NPT will not survive because it tries to institutionalize the global order as of 1960s.

    Either you let India sit in the front of the bus or you will see India working to make sure that the bus goes nowhere.

  22. Mohan (History)

    As an Indian, I appreciate what the US is trying to do here. Basically, India has sufficient wherewithal to undo the NPT over time. India’s become more pragmatic and less guided by Gandhianism constantly, to the point where many Indians now seem to see Israel as the only “true natural ally” for the country in the long term. India’s withstood sanctions extremely well for the 30 years when it was at its weakest as an economy, and the most idealistic. Of all times to negotiate concessions with India, it will likely never get better than this – barring an actual catastrophe/nuclear war. Plus India’s going to nix any climate control ideas. Plus the US wants (and has already succeeded) in influencing Indian polity. This last works differently in a democracy than in Mao-run China. There’ll be no sudden swing, but there’s now a big section of politicians, businesspeople and citizenry that’s pro-US because Bush addressed “the elephant in the room.” So, it all makes sense from the US perspective, though maybe not to nonprof wonks.

    The question for India, however, is – is this the right time. As an Indian that sincerely wishes to see good US-Indian cooperation, I have to say it’s not. I agree with the BJP and the Communists on this one. India should walk for now. The goal should be to better develop breeder technology – which is only a matter of time. Perhaps the goal should be to become a net exporter of nuclear technology for breeders at least, in parallel with the NSG. Use the market distortion created by things like the NSG, just as the Cray-controls helped create market conditions to develop a commercializable PARAM supercomputer. In essence, it’s a strong duty on exports by some exporting countries which helps a low-cost supplier no end. Obviously, be careful on who to sell to. Sell where Germany or France or Russia might sell. Nuclear integration, as with Trade integration, needs to be done right for India – or it should wait for a time when it can be done right. India also needs to better weaponize before signing on to an agenda driven by countries like Austria which are basking comfortably, and hypocritically, under a US-provided nuclear umbrella.

    Summary: Pranab Mukherjee should thank everyone for their time, enjoy an opera in the park if the weather is still good in Vienna, and come back to Delhi.

  23. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    As a Nuclear Weapons State, China has the smallest nuclear arsenal – roughly 200 warheads that constitute a minimum means of retaliation.

    To date, China has had no need to significantly alter this posture or to increase their stockpile of weapons, comfortable in the knowledge that it is sufficient for deterrence.

    Top India officials, on the other hand, have openly stated that their aspirations are to build four hundred or more nuclear warheads – a quantity far in excess of the needs to deter or decimate their rival Pakistan.

    Getting an India only “exemption” from Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and not signing the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) will enable India to do just that.

    Resumed Indian nuclear weapons testing will mean that they will perfect thermo-nuclear weapons with multi megaton yields —- effectively the ability to kill millions of people in an urban area with one single warhead.

    Indian ICBMs can now reach most Chinese cities, and with more nuclear testing, India can build miniaturized thermo nuclear warheads that can basically reach any city in the world.

    India tells their neighbors to take a leap of faith and trust India’s intentions to be peaceful and pledge not to conduct more nuclear weapons tests indefinitely into the future.

    Yet at the same time, India have spared no expense and left no stone unturned in pressing to be exempt from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime that every country except India, Pakistan and Israel abide by.

    Prime Minister Singh and President Bush are now both personally calling the leaders of the six “holdout” countries to lobby them to pass the US-India nuclear deal in haste at the NSG.

    This kind of lobbying is normally reserved for issues of great national significance and is inconsistent with India’s claim that their intentions are entirely peaceful and benign.

    If India has no intent to conduct nuclear weapons tests and a nuclear arms buildup, there is no reason why India and the US cannot postpone the deal and return to the NSG with a domestic Indian consensus in favor of a deal that facilitate peaceful exploitation of nuclear energy by India with appropriate international safeguards.

    The political leadership of Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, and the Netherlands need support more than ever to block the US-India deal.

    China has a vital interest in limiting a new nuclear arms race in South Asia. It is time for the Chinese political leadership to up the ante, and show that Chinese leaders care enough about the issue to counter Manmohan Singh and G. W. Bush’s pressure on six small, defenseless countries.

    President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jia Bao, and Vice Premier Xi Jinping need to pick up the phone, encourage the leadership of Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, and the Netherlands to hold their ground, and reassure them that China stands ready to step in and mitigate whatever damage India and the US might threaten them with.

  24. Akash (History)


    Thats the funniest article I have read in a while. Here we have the worst proliferator of nuclear technology, the PRC, being asked to act as the guard of the henhouse. You seem to be rather insistent that India not have a deterrent against the PRC. Why? So that the PRC can throw its weight around India and continue proliferating missile and nuclear bomb technology to all and sundry?
    Wake up and smell the coffee, LTR. The PRCs antics in dealing with the NSG in bad faith, its constant abuse of the treaties it signed up for, and its rather brazen power play in blatantly transferring weapons designs to Pakistan are now well known and documented. The PRC trying to play the great moralizer is not going to work. You are well within your rights to repeat the same agitprop about India Beijing turns out, but please allow us the intelligence to see through the charade that the PRC has turned non proliferation into. In fact, if any Non Prolif expert wishes to see the one state that undermined NP efforts consistently, via actions undertaken in bad faith and ruthless realpolitik and treaty violations, it is the PRC, and by now it is well documented.

    I encourage everyone to visit the Physics today site and read the article on Chinese weapons program for themselves.

    That apart, the huge amounts of Chinese weaponry, sold at ridiculous hand me down prices to Pak et al speak for themselves. Especially strategic technology.

  25. Manne (History)


    You do realise that most of your post can be rewritten by replacing China with India and vice-versa and yet it would stand.

    BTW, China sure did put up a great show by using that all-powerful veto at NSG. 😛


  26. MT (History)

    @ Lao Tao Ren,

    Are you trying to fool the whole world?

    You said

    As a Nuclear Weapons State, China has the smallest nuclear arsenal – roughly 200 warheads that constitute a minimum means of retaliation.”

    where is the proof? China defence spendings/posture is highly secret in nature.

    Eveyone knows, china is a threat as it tries to become a bully. It is just buying time to flex its muscles, till is gains good amount to defense expertise. It still has to lot of way to go.

    Look what it tried in Vienna by instigating few countries, but failed.

    You said

    If India has no intent to conduct nuclear weapons tests and a nuclear arms buildup, there is no reason why India and the US cannot postpone the deal and return to the NSG with a domestic Indian consensus in favor of a deal that facilitate peaceful exploitation of nuclear energy by India with appropriate international safeguards.

    Reply —> India will most likely detonate if china leads this, else I hardly see any chance.

    You said

    Indian ICBMs can now reach most Chinese cities, and with more nuclear testing, India can build miniaturized thermo nuclear warheads that can basically reach any city in the world.

    India has no intentions of war mongering. Everybody knows that. Not evern with china. But India seeks to gather enough deterrent to protect its territorial integrity/soverignity.

    Any Chinese would be irritated to see that India missiles cover whole of its length and breadth, because Chinese dont want to loose the strategic advantage and would like to limit Indias reach.

  27. MT (History)

    @ Lao Tao Ren,

    I missed on point in last post.

    You said

    Top India officials, on the other hand, have openly stated that their aspirations are to build four hundred or more nuclear warheads – a quantity far in excess of the needs to deter or decimate their rival Pakistan.

    India does not consider pakistan a threat or even a arch rival anymore. India has no intentions to bomb or wage war with pakistan. Agreed there is a kashmir issue, but it wont go that far. Pakistan at times does generate nuclear provocation. With India seeking or having nuclear submarines on the pipe, that provocation part will wear away, because India has a stated policy of no use of nukes 1st and never on a non-NWS state. Having nukes on submarines mean, India can retaliate a nuke strike.

    so the main point here is, pakistan and India are rivals in the imagination only now or maybe a chinese propaganda. Its china that is India’s rival or arch rival, whatever you say.

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