Just ahead of the International Nuclear Suppliers Group’s all member meeting at Buenos Aires this week, India has announced that it will allow for more scrutiny of its nuclear programs by the IAEA. “I can confirm that we are ratifying the additional protocol to the IAEA safeguards agreement,” said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for ministry of external affairs. The move signals India’s commitment “to the responsible use of nuclear power”, Akbaruddin added.
This will be a diplomatic weapon for PM Narendra Modi ahead of his trip to US, scheduled to happen in later July/ August. India also hopes for the NSG to give the country a waiver to joining the civilian nuclear trade. India is presently barred from any trade in the area as it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
NSG’s endorsement of India will also allow trade of material needed for nuclear power production, which is a priority zone for India as a nation growing up and power hungry.
“India sees its ratification of its Additional Protocol as an arrow in its quiver supporting its quest for NSG membership,” said Mark Hibbs, a nuclear expert at the US think-tank the Carnegie Endowment. “India’s entire nuclear weapons program is totally outside the scope of its additional protocol, It isn’t clear to most people what the utility of the additional protocol in India is as a verification instrument, Hibbs added.”