An article yesterday omitted Indian Foreign Secretary Maharaj Krishna Rasgotra's last name.
The United States and India have agreed to end today a dispute that has soured relations for four years by announcing a compromise under which India can continue to receive nuclear fuel for its American-built Tarapur atomic power plant, government sources said yesterday.
The agreement, which is scheduled to be approved formally when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi meets with President Reagan at the White House this morning, provides that India will be able to operate the power plant, Bombay's primary source of electricity, with French-supplied nuclear fuel.
India has agreed that the Tarapur plant, the used fuel from the reactor that is stored on its site and the fuel to be provided by France all will remain under international safeguards against possible misuse, Reagan administration sources said.
The 1978 U.S. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act bars resupplying the plant because India refuses to accept full international inspection of all its nuclear facilities.
Under the new agreement, the United States has won assurances that the fuel it supplied to Tarapur will not be reprocessed without its consent. India has threatened several times to put spent fuel from Tarapur through an unsafeguarded reprocessing plant that it has built down the road. While the resulting plutonium could be used to refuel Tarapur, an Indian government scientist pointedly noted last year that Tarapur's spent fuel contained enough plutonium for nearly 200 explosions the size of India's 1974 nuclear test.
"Under the agreement, the fuel will remain stored under safeguards at the Tarapur reactor," an administration source said yesterday. "The agreement specifies that the Indians may only reprocess our fuel if there is a joint determination that the reprocessing plant is safeguarded.
"We have indicated to them we are not prepared to make that determination in the immediate future, the source said. "But the incentive for reprocessing is greatly diminished if they get a fresh supply of fuel for Tarapur."
While the American-built Tarapur power station and a number of other Indian nuclear facilities are under international safeguards, India has steadfastly refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to accept full-scope safeguards on all its nuclear facilities. It contends that these agreements favor countries that already have nuclear weapons.
This stance has been a major source of contention between the United States and India since Congress passed the nonproliferation act in 1978, requiring that the United States end nuclear cooperation with any country that refused to accept full international safeguards.
India argued that as part of a 1963 agreement, the United States had committed itself to supply enriched uranium fuel for Tarapur until 1993 and could not unilaterally attach new conditions to the contract. The contract, which the agreement to be announced today alters, also stipulates that only U.S.-supplied fuel can be used in the reactor.
Under heavy pressure from India, the Carter administration persuaded the Senate in September, 1980, to approve one final shipment of fuel to Tarapur. But the Reagan administration reluctantly decided in early 1981 that there was no hope of getting any future shipments approved.
Since that time, the administration has focused on finding a formula that would permit India to back off its threats to reprocess the Tarapur fuel.
"We think the agreement as it now stands achieves all of our objectives," the administration source said. "Our safeguards are maintained on U.S. origin material, and our consent rights on the reprocessing of U.S. material are preserved. All other provisions of the 1963 agreement would stand as they are, except the French would provide the fuel."
The source said that U.S. officials had discussed the new agreement with and gained the acquiescence of the French. He said the final terms had been worked out since the arrival here last weekend of Indian Foreign Secretary Maharaj Krishna.
The agreement was expected to play a major role in efforts by Reagan and Gandhi to "set a new tone" in relations on the Indian leader's first U.S. visit since 1971.
Gandhi arrived yesterday evening. She is to talk with Reagan today, then attend a working luncheon with Secretary of State George P. Shultz and meet with congressional leaders before a White House dinner in her honor tonight.