India made no special concession to the US regarding the monitoring of nuclear material in its safeguarded nuclear reactors. And Washington did not order an executive authority climbdown regarding its own legal obligations.
“This was a question of finding a convergence of both respective systems that they could work with and would also meet our requirements,” says an Indian member of the bilateral contact group that worked out the administrative agreement regarding fissile material monitoring.
The agreement combined two separate understandings on the monitoring of nuclear materials in India’s reactors.
One is the existing Indian agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The other, US specific, derives from the legal obligation India and the US undertook when it made the historic 123 agreement in 2008. Under the latter, the two exchanged a list of facilities that used certain types of uranium and plutonium.
No new obligations were made by India in the administrative agreement finalised when US President Barack Obama came for Republic Day.
India has long agreed to IAEA safeguards and reporting to the IAEA on the state of its safeguarded nuclear materials — irrespective of which country this came from, including India. Reporting under the agreement will be discussed as part of the annual consultations with the US that are already required under the 123 agreement.
Referring to stories about two US inspectors being present in each IAEA team that visited Indian reactors, the source said being an international agency, the IAEA’s inspectors were drawn from around the world, not just Americans. The team’s composition is governed by confidentiality agreements the IAEA had with member countries.
The administrative agreements India has with other countries would reflect a similar template, but probably minus the 123 agreement-derived aspects. Japan, for example, was not a full spectrum nuclear supplier and would not be eligible for a separate administrative agreement that went beyond the IAEA obligations.