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Some US curbs on nuclear entities go

Sridhar Krishnaswami

Washington , Oct. 1

IN what is seen as the first follow-up to the recent initialling of the first phase of the next steps in strategic partnership, the US has issued formal notification of the lifting of some sanctions against India's space and nuclear entities.

The Commerce Department — through its Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) — has said that the headquarters of the Indian Space Research Organisation has been removed from the entity list, meaning that this is officially off the punitive measures list.

The BIS has stressed that only the headquarters of the Indian Space Research Organisation in Bangalore has been removed from the entity list and that some ISRO subordinate entities like the ISRO Satellite Centre are not on the Entity List.

The first notification was made on September 22, at the time of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh's visit to New York for the UN General Assembly session meet and his first summit with the US President, Mr George W. Bush. A final action with corrections was issued in the Federal Register on September 29.

Seven subsidiaries of ISRO will stay on the Entity List, but there has been a change of status that would see a simplification of the licensing and export processes. The entities of ISRO under this category are: Telemetry Tracking and Command Network; ISRO Inertial System Unit at Thiruvananthapuram; Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre; Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant; Space Applications Centre at Ahmedabad; Sriharikota Space Centre and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thiruvananthapuram.

The US has removed the export licence requirements for the items subject to the Export Administrative Regulations (EAR) having a classification of EAR99 or a classification where the third through the fifth digits of the Export Commodity Classification Number (ECCN) are "999" for the above seven listed subsidiaries of ISRO.

Further, the US has established a "presumption of approval" for all items not controlled for nuclear proliferation reasons going to the "balance of plant" portion of Indian nuclear facilities subject to the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards for Rajasthan 1 and 2 and Tarapur 1 and 2.

The "balance of plant" refers to that part of a nuclear power plant used for power generation as opposed to nuclear reactors and the BIS has said that the kind of equipment in this category includes, but not limited to such items as high pressure turbines, condensate motors and pumps, main generators and transformers.

The BIS has made it plain that a licence will be required for any EAR99/XX999 if a exporter knows, has reason to know or has been informed by the Department of Commerce that the item will be used in a prohibited missile activity. And specifically an exporter will still be required to submit a licence application for items intended for use in India's space launch vehicle (SLV) programmes.

The listing in the Federal Register has also said that for the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Centre, Indian Rare Earths and Nuclear Reactors, including power plans not under IAEA safeguards, fuel reprocessing and enrichment facilities, heavy water production facilities and their collocated ammonia plants the licence requirement is for all items subject to the EAR. The licence review policy is on a case-by-case for all items listed on the CCL with the presumption of approval for the EAR99 items.

The Department of Atomic Energy entities such as the Nuclear Reactors (including power plants) subject to IAEA safeguards of Tarapur (TAPS 1 and 2) and Rajasthan (RAPS 1 and 2) will have a licence requirement for all items subject to the EAR. The licence review policy is on a case-by-case for all items with the presumption of approval for EAR99 items.

Further, the listing speaks of a presumption of approval for all items not multilaterally controlled for Nuclear Proliferation; "reasons for use in the balance of plant"; activities of nuclear facilities subject to IAEA safeguards for Rajasthan 1 and 2 and Tarapur 1 and 2.

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