I have a copy of the India-specific safeguards agreement, IAEA/2008/30. Here is the full-text.
The word “perpetuity” appears not once.
The section on termination of safeguards states that termination “shall be implemented taking into account the provisions of GOV/1621 (20 August 1973).”
That is a worrisome clause — it appears to offer a loophole that I wrote about in October 2006 after Mark Hibbs published a pair of articles on the agreement:
GOV/1621 is restricted, so I don’t actually know what it says. Sources, however, told Hibbs that GOV/1621 has to do specifically with safeguarding items which are transferred to a state from third parties—a loophole those experts told Hibbs would allow India to interpret the agreement as excluding the 8 indigenous Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors New Delhi offered to place under safeguards pursuant to the US-India agreement …
That would mean that India’s safeguards obligations on the reactors are voluntary, allowing India to terminate or suspend safeguards on these 8 reactors after removing any imported fuel.
I am interested in whether other people share my reading of the agreement.
It appears to me that a reactor becomes subjects to safeguards if (1) it is listed in the Annex (which I don’t have) or (2) uses imported fuel. According to the text of the agreement, India may suspend safeguards on a facility listed in the Annex (case 1) if India and the IAEA “jointly determine that the facility is no longer usable for any nuclear activity relevant from the point of view of safeguards”. As far as I can tell, the agreement is silent on what happens to safeguards on facilities not in the annex (case 2) after India removes all safeguarded fuel.
That leaves the very distressing possibility that Hibbs was correct — that once India removes any imported fuel leaves from any of the 8 indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors, which are unlikely to be listed in the Annex, India can unilaterally terminate the safeguards on the facility.
The remedy would quite straightforward: The IAEA BOG should insist that the reactors themselves are put under safeguards “in perpetuity”—not just the material or other items supplied under the safeguards agreement.
There are other aspects of the agreement that I find worrisome — the co-mingling of military and civilian plutonium (separation is an accounting device, rather than a physical separation) and the suspension of existing safeguards agreements in favor of the new agreement.