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India gets to keep nukes, US will wink at new tests

India, US unveil the text of the 123 pact that lays down the framework for the nuclear deal, reports Amit Baruah. Full text of the 123 dealHighlights of N-deal draft

india Updated: Aug 04, 2007 23:32 IST
Amit Baruah
Amit Baruah
Hindustan Times

India and the US on Friday unveiled the text of the 123 Agreement that lays down the framework for the civilian nuclear deal. The agreement implicitly recognises India’s nuclear weapons programme and contains no direct reference to a US law that requires an end to the cooperation if India conducts any more nuclear tests.

The document ensures development of a strategic fuel reserve for the lifetime of nuclear reactors India places under international safeguards. The US will also help negotiate an India-specific fuel supply agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“The parties (India and the US) agree to consider the circumstances that may lead to termination or cessation of cooperation,” said the text, a reference to the possibility of an Indian nuclear test and New Delhi’s insistence on not going beyond a voluntary commitment not to test again.

The civil nuclear deal will remain in force for a 40-year period and can be extended by an additional 10 years.
The US will support an Indian effort to develop a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of India's reactors.
The US will have the right to seek return of nuclear fuel and technology but it will compensate India promptly for the "fair market value thereof" and the costs incurred as a consequence of such removal.

Alluding to the weapons programme, the draft said the agreement would not “affect unsafeguarded (read military) nuclear activities”. The draft, posted on the websites of the Ministry of External Affairs and the US embassy, also gives India the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel — a facility not extended to China under its agreement with the US in July 1985.

The 123 Agreement was made public ahead of a debate on the politically contentious deal in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

The agreement, which becomes effective on the date India and the US exchange diplomatic notes on it, will be valid for 40 years. It shall continue to be in force for two additional periods of 10 years each. Each country may, by giving six months’ notice, terminate this agreement at the end of the initial 40 years or at the end of any subsequent 10-year period.

If either country wants to terminate the agreement mid-term, it can do so at one year’s notice.

First Published: Aug 04, 2007 01:04 IST