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82. Telegram From the Consulate General in Bombay to the Department of State1

1848. USIAEA. Subj: Nye Visit to New Delhi: Discussions at MEA.

Summary: Discussions which Nye, Sievering, and Van Doren had at MEA were marked by frank, open, and amicable exchanges of view.2 The Indians seemed genuinely interested in learning detailed USG positions on broad range of nuclear issues. Nye told the Indians that the meeting was a good augury for periodic consulations in future and hoped it would serve as a model for such meetings.3 He noted the remarkably similar moral commitment of PM Desai and President Carter against proliferation. He called INFCEP central to what we were trying to achieve. Replying to Nye’s hope that the Indians would agree to participate, Mehta said they were inclined in principle to do so. They agreed to give us a reply by mid-August, and expressed a keen interest in the way we thought the program could best be organized. They were not responsive to Nye’s mild suggestion that if they should wish to join the Suppliers’ Group they would be welcome to do so in the future. The Indians were interested in our discussion of PNEs and thought that if the Sovs. would also agree to exclude these from the CTB this would make things easier for the PM. The Indians were not sympathetic to the idea of the South Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone,4 which Nye cited as one possible way by which GOP leaders could satisfy their public opinion that Pak security was being enhanced. Discussing congressional legislation now pending,5 Nye observed that we are facing a situation which will require full scope safeguards within two years, or disengagement as amicably as possible. He pointed out [Page 209]the advantages (and absence of disadvantage) in these safeguards. Referring to Desai’s Parliamentary statement on inspection,6 he offered orally to the Indians the opportunity to participate in a bilateral inspection of a facility the US was putting under IAEA safeguards as an example of how inspections were carried out. The Indians adopted a more positive interest in full-scope safeguards than we had anticipated. Far from dismissing these as politically unacceptable, they questioned us closely about them. Mentioning one technical point (the others will be discussed in Bombay), Nye said we accepted the Sethna-proposed solution of shifting the US-origin CIRUS heavy water to RAPP I. At the conclusion of the talks, the Indians expressed an interest in further discussions, Shankar stressing the importance of holding these before the possible autumn US visit of PM Desai. End summary.

[Omitted here is the body of the telegram.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770276–0753. Secret; Exdis. Sent for information to New Delhi, Islamabad, and Vienna.
  2. According to the body of the telegram, Mehta, Shankar, and Vellodi attended the meeting.
  3. After their stay in New Delhi, Nye, Sievering, and Van Doren traveled to Bombay in order to consult with Sethna and other Indian officials from the Department of Atomic Energy on August 2. Telegram 1878 from Bombay, August 4, summarized the discussions, which focused on technical aspects of spent fuel storage, reprocessing, and safeguards. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770279–0871)
  4. In 1974, and again in 1976, Pakistan submitted draft resolutions in the UNGA that proposed the establishment of a South Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. India and Pakistan could not agree on whether to include China. India favored inclusion, whereas Pakistan opposed it. Neither resolution was adopted. Telegram 5145 from USUN, November 10, 1976, discussed the history of the issue. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D760422–0412) See also Document 4.
  5. See Document 6.
  6. See Document 78.