Cablegate: U/S Tauscher Engages Fs Rao in Strategic Security

Published: Fri 27 Nov 2009 12:59 PM
DE RUEHNE #2398/01 3311259
O 271259Z NOV 09
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2019
REF: STATE 116165
Classified By: A/DCM Uzra Zeya for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
1. (C) SUMMARY. Delegations led by Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao exchanged views on the full spectrum of nonproliferation and disarmament issues in the first meeting of the Strategic Security Dialogue (SSD) November 12-13. While each side adhered to familiar positions, the chemistry between the principals was good and the dialogue was cordial and frank. The Indian delegation appreciated the message of full partnership on the President's nonproliferation and disarmament agenda and came away with a comprehensive brief on U.S. intentions for the coming year. In the discussion of civil nuclear cooperation, Rao stressed the political dimensions of the proposed ban on Enrichment and Reprocessing technology (ENR) in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). In a separate working-level meeting November 12, the delegations discussed the proposed establishment of a Nuclear Security Center of Excellence in India as a deliverable for the Nuclear Security Summit. The Indian delegation showed interest in cooperation on capacity building to protect nuclear material for the first time, but also sought to link the proposal to reducing risk, i.e. collaboration on research toward a proliferation-proof fuel cycle. The delegations tentatively agreed to hold the next SSD on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit April 11-12 in Washington, and to follow up on the Center of Excellence proposal on the margins of the next Sous-sherpa meeting in Tokyo and the Civil Nuclear Energy Working Group (CNEWG) on January 11 in Mumbai. END SUMMARY.
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2. (SBU) U.S. Delegation: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher National Security Council Director Joyce Connery Senior Advisor Maureen Tucker Deputy Assistant Secretary (ISN) Eliot Kang Foreign Affairs Officer (ISN) Katherine Croft Nuclear Regulatory Commission Dr. Karen Henderson Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Rebecca Hersman National Nuclear Security Administration John Gerrard Embassy New Delhi Political Counselor Uzra Zeya Embassy New Delhi Political Officer David Holmes (note-taker) Embassy New Delhi Political Officer Clarissa Adamson (note-taker)
3. (SBU) Indian Government Delegation: Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao Department of Atomic Energy Director Dr. R.B. Grover MEA Joint Secretary for Disarmament and International Security Affairs (DISA) Gaddam Dharmendra Department of Atomic Energy Joint Secretary for External Relations Gitesh Sarma MEA DISA Director Amandeep Singh Gill MEA Technology Unit Director Sandeep Arya MEA Americas Division Director Vani Rao MEA DISA Deputy Secretary Vipul Department of Space Policy Analyst and Scientist V. Gopalakrishnan Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) Distinguished Scientist D. Banerjee DRDO Representative Gopal Bhushan
Global and Regional Strategic Issues: WMD Terrorism, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, DPRK, CBMs
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4. (C) In her opening remarks, Rao stressed terrorism as the primary challenge faced by both countries, and that India's goal remained to bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks to justice. India is a force for stability and security in a volatile region, yet its security is "in flux" due to the threats emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its rise added to the complexity of the Asian power equation, but the nuclear balance was unlikely to change much assuming the DPRK and Iran did not break out. Rao stressed the need to strengthen platforms for dialogue, and noted maritime security as an opportunity for cooperation. She would be guided by a Chinese maxim, "making efforts to increase common ground while reserving differences." Tauscher stressed the United States viewed India as a "full partner" and "major player" in efforts to bring about a world without nuclear weapons. She reviewed nonproliferation challenges posed by Iran, DPRK, and Syria, and noted that we cannot allow the world-wide nuclear renaissance to lead to proliferation or weapons of mass destruction terrorism. Working toward a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) and bringing into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) are important steps toward disarmament. Tauscher outlined efforts to conclude a follow-on Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and said she would welcome India's views on getting to zero.
5. (C) Kang reviewed the U.S. assessment of the challenge to the nonproliferation regime presented by Iran, Syria, and the DPRK. India was among Iran's largest energy export markets, according to Rao. Rao said India believed Iran must adhere faithfully to its obligations and called for dialogue and peaceful resolution, stressing that the IAEA was the best forum in which to address the issue. India had noted U.S. efforts to increase "diplomatic space" for engagement; any other approach was "unthinkable." Rao said she hoped Iran would respond to the IAEA Director General reports, which also point to clandestine networks in which India is most concerned. On Syria, Rao noted that the IAEA Director General's investigations were inconclusive, but she hoped Syria would cooperate to permit the completion of the investigations. She agreed that the DPRK's nuclear tests were contrary to its obligations, and that it had responded to international engagement efforts with "shift and drift." She expressed hope that the DPRK would rejoin the Six Party Talks.
6. (C) Pakistan's proliferation activities over the past two decades went far beyond the India-centric threat that Pakistan claimed is the purpose of its arsenal, according to Rao, while India's nuclear deterrent remained defensive, modest, and governed by a 'no first use' policy. Rao insisted India wanted to engage Pakistan on confidence building measures (CBMs), and supports resumption of the Composite Dialogue, but sponsorship of terrorism remained an impediment to further discussions. Rao regularly reminded the delegation of India,s "utmost restraint" in responding to Mumbai. Rao noted that Pakistan's instability increased concerns of WMD terrorism and she asked for the U.S. assessment of the safety and security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. Tauscher replied that Pakistan had provided adequate assurances, and Gerard added that dialogue with Pakistan had increased the confidence of U.S. officials in the measures they have taken.
Multilateral Disarmament and Nonproliferation: CTBT, FMCT, UNGA First Committee
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7. (SBU) India was encouraged by President Obama's call for disarmament, according to Rao, who proposed the appointment of senior coordinators among states with nuclear weapons to
facilitate movement toward the goal of total disarmament in a step by step manner. Indians felt the CTBT text that emerged in 1996 ignored India's concerns, but it remained India's position that a comprehensive test ban would constitute a key step toward disarmament. Rao noted that the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan called for a time-bound commitment to universal and complete disarmament.
8. (C) Tauscher reviewed the U.S. plan to pursue CTBT ratification over the coming year, stressing the importance of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) due to the U.S. Congress February 1 as a "seminal document" that brings policy substance to the Prague speech vision. She noted that the planned release of an unclassified version of the NPR would be a significant development allowing "the whole world to see our path." She also highlighted a Ballistic Missile Defense Review, the federal budget, a National Academies of Science Report, and a National Intelligence Estimate as key steps in the process. Tauscher said Vice President Biden will lead the U.S. domestic effort for CTBT ratification and shared that he will not take it to the Congress unless the required 67 votes are ensured. Hersman added that the 2010 NPR is not only guied by the goal of enhancing security, but also reducing the potential for use, enhancing restraint world-wide, and strengthening the nonproliferation regime.
9. (C) Rao observed that India had consistently supported FMCT negotiations in the CD and regretted that the work plan had been held up by Pakistan with the quiet support of China and Iran. She listed the key issues as exclusion of existing stocks (calling on the U.S. to take the lead here and for India to "protect nuclear weapons states' interests"), making allowances for legitimate national security requirements, and the need for effective verification. She was disappointed the CD did not also launch disarmament talks. Kang replied that the United States shared India's hope for a more constructive approach from Pakistan and that procedural blocks were not the answer. Tauscher said she would like to remain in touch with Rao on FMCT negotiations and expressed the hope that the U.S. and India could hold separate discussions on the issue . Rao was optimistic that "we can get down to work early next year."
10. (C) On multilateral disarmament initiatives more broadly, Rao said she hoped one day to convince the United States to support the resolution on De-alerting and De-emphasizing Nuclear Weapons in the UN General Assembly First Committee. Amandeep Singh Gill added that India would like to help on the issue of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Middle East, but as in the case of UN Security Council Resolution 1887, references to the NPT would need to be managed. Tauscher stressed UNSCR 1887 was not directed at India and expressed hope that experts could work together to come up with a formulation that would allow India to support such initiatives in the future. Kang stressed that despite some specific reservations, the U.S. approach was to be as multilateral and constructive as possible.
Global Challenges: Chemical and Biological Security, Ballistic Missile Proliferation, UNSCR 1540, PSI
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11. (C) Turning to a variety of global challenges, Rao observed that India had completed the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile prior to the deadline imposed by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). India regarded the CWC as a unique disarmament treaty that sought a balance between legitimate and illegitimate uses. Consistent with the Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention (BWC), India was bolstering its disease surveillance capabilities and was working with private sector representatives. Kang noted that
the United States will have destroyed 90 percent of its chemical weapons stockpile by the 2012 deadline and was developing a national security strategy to counter biological threats focused on infectious disease prevention, detection, and transparency and compliance.
12. (C) Rao said India was committed not only to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons but also of the means of their delivery, but would not support the principle of exclusive possession of ballistic missile technology by some states. India harmonized with the control list and guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). (Note: India has harmonized only as the lists existed in 2005. End note.). India's program was modest, experimental, and defensive, and developed its capabilities in a transparent and predictable manner. She noted that U.S.-India cooperation has been useful to date, and that India would be interested in hearing U.S. ideas on this issue. Tauscher noted that the U.S. ballistic missile defense review was ongoing and that the United States had adopted a new, phased adaptive approach to missile defense in Europe. Tauscher indicated that the U.S. would be interested in discussing missile defense issues further, if India desired.
13. (C) Rao fully shared the objectives of UNSCR 1540 and had provided periodic updates to the committee. Kang expressed appreciation for the participation of officials from the Indian Embassy in Colombo in the 1540 Conference held in Sri Lanka. He stressed 1540 is all about capacity building and that more could be done by India within the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Similarly, India shared the objectives of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and cooperated with PSI activities in practice, but Rao stressed that NPT-derived concepts in the 2005 amendments to the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA) Convention and the proposed 2009 revisions of the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Civil Aviation (the Montreal Convention) in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) precluded Indian support in principle. Public opinion in India would find it unacceptable for India to be the target of a regime that also sought its membership, Rao explained.
Civil Nuclear Cooperation, ENR Ban, and Fuel Banks
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14. (SBU) India remained committed to fully implementing the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which according to Rao represented a carefully crafted set of compromises. She recounted steps taken to date, adding that she hoped the government would introduce liability legislation to the next Parliament. (Note: New liability legislation is on the agenda for the winter session of Parliament that began November 19. End note.) Dr. Grover clarified that the first step toward ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) was to implement domestic legislation, after which other steps would follow.
15. (C) Rao stressed that India supported the goal of preventing transfers of Enrichment and Reprocessing technology (ENR) in principle, but asked that the United States' position in favor of a global ban not be seen as a "roll-back" of the NSG decision that made India a partner, and that India can,t be seen as "half in and half out (of the NSG)." She characterized the pending decision as an "issue of significance for Indian perceptions about the Civil Nuclear Agreement and our partnership." Rao raised the politically sensitive nature of the issue again over lunch, stressing that it was an issue "close to the heart" and that India was "counting on the United States to value the spirit of the Civil Nuclear Agreement in the NSG." She concluded
that India's core concern was that "the September 2008 NSG decision not be seen to be rolled back." Tauscher reassured Rao that restricting ENR transfers via the NSG criteria-based approach is based upon long standing U.S. policy, that decisions are up to the consensus-based body (46 members), and that the U.S. was not targeting India.
16. (C) Rao said India had no conceptual problem with multilateral fuel banks and viewed itself as a supplier nation for Thorium, but that NPT-derived criteria should not be the basis for participation. Tauscher noted that the United States was considering supporting the Russian proposal and would like to hold further discussions with India. Dr. Grover contended that the Russian proposal provided access to fuel banks to states that did not possess ENR technology, which excludes India. Kang replied that the fuel bank proposal was not intended for countries like India and the U.S. that possess advanced nuclear technology.
Export Controls, EXBS, and Onward Proliferation Cases
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17. (C) Dharmendra confirmed that the Indian government was reviewing the export controls proposal shared by NSA Jones with NSA Narayanan. Amandeep Singh Gill noted that India was not starting from scratch, noting its WMD Act of 2005, harmonization with NSG and MTCR (2005) control lists, and "close proximity" to list of other groups such as the Australia Group. He added that the India was focused on enforcement, including outreach to industry. Dharmendra recounted that India had engaged in some two dozen activities through the Export Controls and Related Border Security (EXBS) program, but acknowledged that cooperation had stalled in the last year. He agreed to revisit India's cooperation with the program, but added that it would require effort to get other agencies on board.
18. (C) Dharmendra confirmed the receipt of reftel nonpaper listing outstanding onward proliferation cases. Without addressing specific cases, he explained that some cases were on-going, he was prohibited from discussing some cases that were in the courts, and in some cases MEA was discussing the issue with the firms involved. Kang stressed the need to obtain responses in writing to demarches on onward proliferation cases.
Working Group on Nuclear Security Center of Excellence
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19. (C) A separate working group on the proposal to establish a Nuclear Security Center of Excellence was held on November 12 chaired by National Security Council Director Joyce Connery and Department of Atomic Energy Director Dr. R.B. Grover. (The GOI delegation included Dharmendra, Sarma, Gill, Arya, and Vipul). Connery outlined how the cooperation in this area would fit into the vision President Obama outlined in his Prague speech and expectations in advance of the Global Nuclear Security Summit in April, 2010. In his opening remarks, Grover emphasized that security concerns could not override India's need to ensure the availability of electricity at reasonable prices, but added that India had been concerned with security for some time, partly due to the dangerous region in which it is located. Grover proposed addressing security at two levels, first by reducing risk (i.e. developing proliferation-resistant technologies, and new reactor design features), and second by addressing residual risk (i.e. ensuring physical security). He said India was considering establishing "an international center focused on nuclear security including research toward a proliferation-resistant fuel cycle," and reiterated DAE Director Dr. Kakodkar,s proposal for an "Indo-American
Partnership for Nuclear Energy Worldwide," which could pursue cooperative development of advanced fuel-cycle systems, including their proposed thorium-based reactor (AHWR 300 - LEU). Connery noted that the development of a proliferation-resistant fuel cycle was 20-30 years away, and in mean time we need to get security right.
20. (C) National Nuclear Security Administration representative John Gerrard presented the potential elements of the Center of Excellence, including cooperation on training infrastructure and program development, standards and enforcement, material accounting and control, nuclear protection technology, physical protection, protective forces, and personnel reliability. GOI representatives asked several questions that suggested they were seriously considering the proposal. They inquired about the Center's relationship to the IAEA and about how its activities would relate to existing IAEA standards and training programs. Gerrard offered that training at the facility would go beyond the basic physical and material security training offered by the IAEA. Gill emphasized that it should be focused outward as a resource for other states rather than inward as a training facility for Indians, and inquired about how it would function as a regional center (i.e. whether Pakistan would have access). Kang suggested that international access to the center might be discussed in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). They were interested to learn about other such facilities (such as in Russia and Kazakhstan), how many weeks a year they actually operated, and keen to learn that the Indian facility would be unprecedented in terms of the scope and the integration of training capabilities. They wanted to clarify that, inasmuch as the cooperation program dealt with regulatory issues, it did so only with respect to physical security rather than regulatory issues across the board.
21. (SBU) Having addressed all the GOI delegation's questions but lacking a firm commitment, the delegations agreed to revisit the proposal with Dr. Grover when he attends the Sous-sherpa meeting in Japan on December 3 and again on the margins of the Civil Nuclear Energy Working Group (CNEWG) on January 11 in Mumbai.
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