India's enhanced non- proliferation commitments under the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear deal constitute a "net gain" for the global non-proliferation regime, the Bush administration said on Thursday, adding there were "powerful" strategic, political, economic and environmental reasons" to support the initiative.
Detailing the benefits of the initiative launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush on July 2005, the State Department in a fact sheet said the steps taken by India, a non-signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, would enhance the global non-proliferation regime and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
"India's enhanced non-proliferation commitments strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation framework and constitute a net gain for the global nonproliferation regime," it said on the "unprecedented three-year effort" by the two governments to get all the necessary approvals, including that of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group for the deal as it welcomed New Delhi to the non-proliferation mainstream."
"Together, they constitute a dramatic change in moving India into closer conformity with international non-proliferation standards and practices, and form a firm foundation for the US and India to strengthen our efforts in the future to prevent WMD proliferation and to combat terrorism," the fact sheet said, nearly a week after New Delhi and Washington completed all formalities on the deal.
"There are powerful security, political, economic, and environmental reasons to support this initiative," it said.
The U.S.-India initiative provides significant gains, it said noting that the deal deepens America's strategic partnership with India, which it described as the worlds largest democracy and a rising economic power.
The deal also enhanced energy security by helping India's large and growing population meet its accelerating energy needs. It helps protect the environment since nuclear energy presents a cleaner alternative than other available options. The deal will lead to increased trade and create new jobs and investment opportunities for U.S. companies.
Finally, the deal will welcome India into the nonproliferation mainstream, the Fact Sheet said.
Under this initiative, India remains outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty but assumes important nonproliferation responsibilities and obligations, including separating its civil and military nuclear facilities, accepting IAEA safeguards at its civil nuclear facilities, and signing and implementing an Additional Protocol.
It pointed out that India has created a robust national export control system, including through harmonisation with and adherence to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime guidelines and annexes.
Additionally, India has pledged to continue its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing and is working with the United States to conclude a multilateral Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, a longstanding objective of the international community, the fact sheet said.
On the IAEA's India Safeguards Agreement, it said the pact provides for appropriate, effective safeguards in perpetuity, based on accepted IAEA safeguards principles, while taking into account India's unique circumstances.
"India also has pledged to sign and implement an IAEA Additional Protocol, which will provide IAEA inspectors with additional tools and information for conducting inspections under India's Safeguards Agreement, as well as contribute to the universality of the protocol and help establish it as the new international safeguards standard-an important nonproliferation goal for the United States, many other NPT States Party, and the IAEA," the fact sheet said.
India has made public a plan to separate its civil and military facilities, in which 14 reactors, including the 4 presently safeguarded reactors, and other facilities would be offered for safeguards under the agreement.
The safeguards agreement provides that, once a facility is added to the Annexe of the safeguards agreement, safeguards must remain in place until the IAEA and India jointly determine that the facility is no longer usable for nuclear activities.
"We have made clear to the Indian government that there will be no cooperation on unsafeguarded facilities. As its future civilian thermal power and civilian breeder reactors will be placed under safeguards, we expect that the proportion of India's nuclear industry subject to such controls will increase over time," it said.
These steps, which will bring more than 65 per cent of India's reactors under safeguards, have brought India closer to the non-proliferation mainstream, and the United States believes the India Safeguards Agreement represents an important step toward realising the economic and energy benefits foreseen by the initiative, the fact sheet noted.
Describing the decision of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to grant a waiver to India as "historic," the Fact Sheet said the move brought "us closer to realising the important benefits - including nonproliferation benefits - that successful implementation of the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative will bring about."
"India's commitments will strengthen the international non-proliferation regime, and the NSG consensus policy decision has brought us another step closer to realising full civil nuclear cooperation with India, thus helping the world's largest democracy gain access to environmentally responsible energy supplies.
The Fact Sheet, clarified that the Initiative was about civil nuclear cooperation, not about India's strategic weapons programme.
"It seeks to enable civil nuclear cooperation with India, a state that faces real and growing energy needs, has a solid nuclear non-proliferation export record, has an established and widespread nuclear infrastructure, and has made enhanced non-proliferation commitments which strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.
India's commitment to continue its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, along with the other steps New Delhi has taken under the Joint Statement, made this Initiative achievable, it said, justifying the deal.
"The NPT allows for nuclear energy cooperation with non-parties that do not have full-scope safeguards, as long as the cooperation itself is under safeguards," it said.
"This Initiative establishes a firm foundation for additional non-proliferation and counter-proliferation cooperation, areas we fully intend to advance through the course of our partnership.
"The United States looks forward to a new strategic partnership with India in a way that will provide global leadership in the years ahead," the Fact Sheet said.