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Pakistan’s NSG Application

Dr. G. Balachandran was a Consulting Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • June 21, 2016

    In a bid to support and strengthen their country’s claim for NSG membership, the Pakistani strategic community has resorted to the fabrication of false claims. At a recent Round Table on “Pakistan’s Credentials for NSG Membership,” Dr. Adil Sultan, Director Research and Analysis, Directorate of Strategic Plans Division (SPD), claimed that “Even once Pakistan was sanctioned after India’s nuclear test of 1974, Pakistan voluntarily continued its IAEA safeguards on Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) despite the termination of its bilateral agreement with the supplier.” It is extremely likely that this statement, which burnishes Pakistan’s non-proliferation credentials, would have been included in that country’s May 13, 2016 application to the NSG for membership, given the reasonable assumption that it would have been the SPD, and especially its research division, that would have drafted Pakistan’s application. The Pakistan application has stated that “Pakistan voluntarily continued its IAEA safeguards on Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) despite the termination of its bilateral agreement with the supplier.”

    This assertion is, however, open to question from a reading of the three major international agreements that Pakistan had signed with respect to KANUPP. These are:

    1. The Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Pakistan for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (Signed May 14, 1959; Entered Into Force July 18, 1960).
    2. Agreement relating to the construction of the Karachi Nuclear Power Station (Signed at Karachi on 24 December 1965). And,
    3. The Text of the IAEA Safeguards Transfer Agreement relating to the Bilateral Agreement between Pakistan and Canada (INFCIRC/153, Entry Into Force 17 October 1969).

    Although, according to the May 14, 1959 Canada-Pakistan Bilateral Agreement, “[i]t [the bilateral agreement] shall remain in force for a minimum period of ten years, and thereafter until six months after notice of termination has been given by either Contracting Party to the other, unless such notice has been given six months prior to the expiry of the said period of ten years (Article VII(3))”, it was subsequently modified in respect of KANUPP by the 24 December 1965 agreement.

    The 1965 agreement had the following provisions in respect of KANUPP:

    1. Article V, according to which, “The nuclear reactor in the Station shall be obtained pursuant to the provisions of the May 1959 Agreement. Canada and Pakistan hereby agree that the provisions of the May 1959 Agreement shall continue to apply, in relation to the Station, for the operating life of the said reactor.” [emphasis added]
    2. Article VI, according to which, “Canada and Pakistan agree to avail themselves, under mutually satisfactory arrangements, of the services of the International Atomic Energy Agency (hereinafter referred to as the Agency), as and when the Agency is in a position to provide such services for the application to the Station by the Agency of the provisions of article XII of its Statute.” And,
    3. Article VII, which stated, “This Agreement shall come into force upon the date of signature. It shall remain in force during the operating life of the nuclear reactor in the Station.” [emphasis added]

    It is true that although the IAEA safeguards agreement (INFCIRC/135) had the following clause in respect of termination of safeguards – “This Agreement shall remain in force for the duration of the Agreement for Co-operation, unless terminated sooner by any Party upon six months' notice to the other Parties or as may otherwise be agreed” – as a matter of fact, the 1959 agreement was never terminated by either Pakistan or Canada and1 the 1965 bilateral agreement makes it clear that all provisions of the 1959 agreement and the IAEA safeguards agreement will be in force for the duration of the operating life of the KANUPP reactor. Hence, there is no IAEA-Pakistan safeguards agreement as a result of any voluntary offer of Pakistan for KANUPP safeguards.

    The KANUPP case is totally different from that of the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS). In the case of TAPS, India had voluntarily offered to place it under safeguards and concluded a specific agreement in this regard with the IAEA (INFCIRC/433) after the termination of the original TAPS safeguards agreement (INFCIRC/154). On 24 October 1993, the Agreement for Co-operation between India and the United States expired. Accordingly, as provided for in section 27 of the Safeguards Agreement, the Safeguards Agreement also expired on that date. In a letter of 19 August 1993, from the Resident Representative of India to the IAEA, it was explained that “it is proposed to continue operation of TAPS to produce electricity for many more years beyond 24th October, 1993.” In the same letter from the Resident Representative of India, the Government of India expressed its wish to continue voluntarily, on a bilateral basis, the application of safeguards to the nuclear material subject to safeguards under INFCIRC/154, Part I.

    In the ensuing correspondence between the Government of India and IAEA, the former had expressed its preference for an approach whereby the new safeguards agreement would take the form of an exchange of letters incorporating the agreed provisions of INFCIRC/154, Part I, and detailing the new provisions. Subsequently, an IAEA safeguards Agreement with the Government of India for the Application of Safeguards to all nuclear material subject to Agency safeguards under INFCIRC/154, Part 1, was concluded between India and IAEA, which was approved by the Agency's Board of Governors on 21 February 1994 and entered into force on 1 March 1994 (INFCIRC/433).

    There is no such documentary evidence to substantiate the Pakistani claim that Pakistan had entered into any voluntary safeguards agreement with the IAEA in respect of KANUPP. In fact, India is the only country to have entered into a voluntary safeguards agreement in respect of a reactor after the termination of the bilateral agreement in respect of that reactor.

    Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDSA or of the Government of India.