India ratifies an additional protocol and will safeguard two more nuclear power reactors

India has ratified an Additional Protocol (AP) to its safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In 2006, India had committed to negotiate an AP with the IAEA as part of the US-India nuclear deal.

The Model Additional Protocol (INFCIRC/540) was developed in the 1990s to strengthen the safeguards system in non-nuclear weapon states under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Its main goal is to expand the range of information about its peaceful nuclear activities that a state reports to the IAEA. As of May 2014, 123 countries had an AP in force, including all five NPT nuclear-weapon states.

While non-weapon states subscribe to the original Model Additional Protocol, the NPT nuclear weapon states have negotiated their own AP agreements with the IAEA, which differ widely from each other in reporting obligations and in the degree of access offered to the IAEA for inspections and all are far more restrictive than the Model Additional Protocol. India has accepted even fewer obligations under its AP agreement, committing only to report details about exports to non-weapon states of source materials, uranium and thorium, when they exceed 10 tons per year and 20 tons per year respectively. This undertaking is also found in the APs of other states, but in India's case it seems to be the only new obligation it has accepted. For comparison, the Model Protocol has 30 specific reporting obligations on the "provision of information." As detailed below, a number of facilities with military significance are not included in the scope of the AP.

Concerns about India's AP agreement were made public courtesy of Wikileaks, with a 2009 cable from Ambassador Gregory L. Schulte (then U.S. Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations in Vienna), reporting that India's draft AP text "does not even go as far as the APs for Russia and China, the weakest among NWS, and is viewed in the Safeguards Department and the Office of the Legal Advisor as setting a bad precedent for not only Pakistan, but Brazil".

In a further development, India has announced it will put two additional pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) under IAEA safeguards by the end of 2014. When the process is completed, India will have a total of ten PHWRs under safeguards, eight of which were offered for safeguards after the Nuclear Suppliers Group waived its restrictions on India in 2008, and will have fulfilled another commitment made as part of the US-India nuclear deal.

A significant proportion of India's nuclear complex, including PHWRs, will remain outside IAEA safeguards, however, and could have a military role. This was made evident in a 2006 exchange between Indian Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar and Pallava Bagla, a science journalist:

Bagla: "Is your strategic need for plutonium not met by CIRUS and Dhruva? Do you need additional capacity from civilian reactors?" Kakodkar: "Yes, very clearly. Not from civilian reactors, but from power reactors."

India's unsafeguarded nuclear complex will include eight PHWRs: Tarapur III & IV, Madras I & II, and Kaiga I--IV. Together, these unsafeguarded reactors have 2350 MW of electricity generation capacity and could produce about 1250 kilograms of reactor-grade plutonium every year.

India also will not accept safeguards on the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) and the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), both located at Kalpakkam. The former could produce up to 140 kg of weapon-grade plutonium each year, assuming 75% capacity factor.Facilities associated with the nuclear submarine propulsion program would not be offered for safeguards. Reprocessing and enrichment facilities also are to remain outside safeguards - including existing facilities and the new reprocessing and enrichment plants India is now building.

The two PHWRs to go under safeguards later in 2014 are Narora I & II, sited near New Delhi. In 2009 and 2010, India offered Kakrapar I & II and Rajasthan III--VI reactors for safeguards (see table below). In addition, six imported reactors (Tarapur I and II, Rajasthan I and II, and Koodankulam I and II) are safeguarded.

India's PHWRs and their IAEA safeguard status