This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NEW DELHI 007333
DEPT PASS TO NRC
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ENRG TRGY KNNP PREL ETTC TSPL CVIS FR IN NSSP SUBJECT: VISA DENIALS THREATEN CREDIBILITY OF NSSP, OPEN DOORS TO FRENCH AND OTHERS
Reference: NEW DELHI 6833
1. (SBU) Summary: A visit to India's premier atomic energy establishments by Alain Bugat, Chairman of the French Atomic Energy Commission, suggests that France is willing to engage in discussions with India on nuclear matters to a degree that is inconceivable within the current NSSP framework. The visa denial of Baldev Raj ironically made it possible for Raj to host Bugat at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) in a very high profile visit. The three to four week delay required by the Mantis Security Advisory Opinion (SAO) process, together with an apparent increase in technology transfer related visa denials, gives heart to critics in India's scientific establishment who claim the NSSP is void of content. Mission recommends Washington establish a process that allows all stakeholders to review recommended Mantis SAO denials. End summary.
Director IGCAR Deemed "Inadmissible" to Travel to the US
2. (SBU) On November 5, 2004 Dr. Baldev Raj (DOB 09 April 1947), distinguished Scientist and Director of IGCAR, which PM Singh has just visited in conjunction with the inauguration of the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (Ref.), was categorized through the SAO Mantis process as "inadmissible" under Section 212a3A(i)(II).
3. (SBU) Dr. Raj was to represent IGCAR at the Eighth Information Exchange Meeting on Actinide and Fission Product Partitioning and Transmutations that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 9 to 11, 2004. This information exchange meeting was the eighth in a series that began in
1990. According to the organizers, the meeting was an open scientific meeting and not subject to any CFR810 controls for export of information.
4. (SBU) Dr. Raj had been quite insistent about obtaining information on the status of his visa. Requests, however, ceased about two weeks prior to Raj's proposed travel. On November 5, Dr. Raj's office told SciCouns that Dr. Raj was traveling and would not be back in the office until November
Chairman Atomic Energy Commission France Visits IGCAR
5. (SBU) Dr. Raj's silence did not last long. Mission found out that Alain Bugat, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of France, had visited the Atomic Energy Commission's Kalpakkam site, 60 kilometers from Chennai, on November 9. Kalpakkam hosts the IGCAR, which is the headquarters for the Indian Fast Breeder Reactor program, the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) and the Nuclear De- salination Demonstration Plant. At Kalpakkam, in addition to discussions with Raj, Bugat met T.S. Rajendran, Director of MAPS and Prabhat Kumar, the Director of the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR).
Renewal of Indo-French Nuclear Links
6. (SBU) In an interview with T.S. Subramanayan, a reliable reporter for "The Hindu," Chairman Bugat said that one of the purposes of this visit to India "is to renew our links for cooperation in the field of fast nuclear reactors" and to forge cooperation at the R&D level in scientific topics, such as fundamental physics, live sciences, reactor safety in thermal reactors and fast breeder reactors. Bugat ducked the question on whether France was prepared to sell India Pressurized Light Water Reactors (PLWRs) without insisting that India sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or implement full scope safeguards as demanded by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Bugat's response was that this was the topic on which he could not speak, as "we are not diplomats. We're technicians, physicists and managers. So what I want to say is that cooperation between India and France is perfectly respectful of all international agreements that India and France have signed."
Are India and France Ready to Hop Into The Sack?
7. (SBU) During his visit, Bugat was reminded that Betram Goldschmidt, the late pioneer of the French nuclear program, had remarked in 1992 at Kovalan, near Chennai, that "France and India were prepared to flirt with each other but not really go to bed" in nuclear matters. Bugat was asked whether the time was now ripe for the two countries to "go to bed" in nuclear matters, especially light water reactors. The Hindu quotes Bugat as saying, "I cannot say. We can go to bed if diplomats and politicians come to a new round of agreements. There are certain ways in which nuclear science R&D is closer to political affairs than industrial affairs but we will not decide in the place of politicians." Bugat concluded by saying that France appreciates the fact that India's nuclear energy program is "comprehensive and coherent" as it includes nuclear power reactors, research reactors and nuclear applications in other fields. Bugat also said he appreciates that India has not been involved in any nuclear controversies concluding that, in his assessment, only India, France and Japan have comprehensive nuclear programs (to include breeding, reprocessing and a closed nuclear fuel cycle).
Bugat Visits the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
8. (SBU) During his trip, on November 10, Chairman Bugat visited BARC at Trombay holding discussions with Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. S. Banerjee, Director of BARC, and Dr. R. B. Grover, the Director of Strategic Planning for the Department of Atomic Energy.
The Visa Mantis SAO Program
9. (SBU) The three to four week wait required to obtain Mantis SAO response for executives in Indian nuclear and space organizations together with the fact that approvals often come at the last minute or too late for Indian travelers to accomplish their missions in the United States is having an adverse impact on our relations with the Indian scientific community. Specific examples are the visas for Kasturirangan KRISHNASWAMY (DOB 24 October 1940) and for Prem Shanker GOEL (DOB 20 April 1947) who were granted approval to travel to the U.S. on the very same day they planned to hold a meeting at Boeing Satellite System Divisions, and the visa for Sridhara Murthi Kuppam RAMAIYER (DOB 7 September 1950) which was approved on the day when traveler was already supposed to be in the United States.
10. (SBU) There have been cases when travelers proposing to attend open meetings in the U.S. related to nuclear power were found "inadmissible." In particular, Atal Kumar GUPTA (DOB 27 AUG 1953), the Technical Service Superintendent in charge of Engineering Support at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station and Pramod Kumar SHARDA (DOB 7 JAN 1951), the Chief Superintendent at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Plant were supposed to attend peer review training at the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) in Atlanta in preparation for an annual WANO experts visit to nuclear power stations in India. The goal of such visits is to promote nuclear power station operational safety. Gupta and Sharda were categorized as "inadmissible" under Section 212a3A(i)(II) on 8 October 2004.
11. (SBU) As WANO training in nuclear safety is not subject to CFR810 controls for export of information, and relates to a USG policy objective to promote bi-lateral cooperation in safe operation of nuclear power plants, prima facie it would appear that this denial runs counter to USG policy objectives.
The Cupboard is Not Entirely Bare
12. (SBU) Mission acknowledges and appreciates the Department's support in expediting some Mantis SAO processing. We also understand that in some cases the problem of delays is due to late applications by Indian scientists, a problem we are seeking to address with the GOI. The fast approval for Dr. Prem Shanker GOEL (DOB 20 April 1947) and Janardhana EDDYA (DOB 1 November 1945) to attend a NASA workshop on "Creating New and Sustainable Space Exploration" is one example. Another is the approval for Nuclear Power Corporation of India Chairman Shreyans Kumar JAIN (DOB 8 May 1948) to attend a WANO conference in Atlanta on November 2 and 3, 2004. In Mission's view, the rapid processing of this Mantis SAO is a solid demonstration of USG good will in light of the recent determination of Section 212a3A(i)(II) inadmissibility for Gupta and Sharda above.
Comment: Giving Ammunition to NSSP Doubters
13. (SBU) It is ironic that Raj held such discussions with the Chairman of the French Atomic Energy Commission, at the time he was denied access to the United States to participate in an open conference which is not subject to export controls. Such denials give ammunition to Indian nuclear and space scientists who firmly believe that the NSSP is nothing but a sham, and therefore oppose efforts by political players like NSA Dixit to move ahead on our export control benchmarks and the NSSP process as a whole.
14. (SBU) A high profile case of ineligibility such as the Raj case points to the need for an inter-agency process that allows the SA bureau and other stakeholders to participate in the Mantis SAO process and review any recommended Mantis SAO denials before the decision is communicated to post. It is also important that the Embassy fully understand the reasons for any denials and has a mechanism to provide additional input if a decision appears to impact other established policy objectives, such as the NSSP process or nuclear safety cooperation.
15. (SBU) We recognize that it will be necessary to deny visits, even for high-profile applicants, when serious technology transfer concerns exist. When this happens, we need to be in a position to fully understand the reasons for the decision and to be able to put it in context for our Indian interlocutors. Mission appreciates Washington consideration of this issue.