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India urged to accept IAEA safeguards

All countries, including India, stood to gain if safeguards inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency were allowed greater access to nuclear installations, IAEA director-general Hans Blix said on Monday.

IAEA verification would make transfer of nuclear technology easier, which would help healthy tdevelopment of nuclear power, he said in New Delhi while addressing the inaugural session of the two-day IAEA seminar on the role of nuclear energy in sustainable development.

Blix said it was the discovery of Iraq's uranium enrichment programme that accelerated IAEA's efforts to strengthen the safeguards system. The IAEA now demands more information than it used to, and seeks that safeguards inspectors be allowed greater access, so that the activities of the installation are more transparent.

Blix noted that some governments were worried about opening up to inspection installations which may have commercial or technical secrets. But a strengthened inspection system could help revive the nuclear power option, he said, adding that once improved, such an option could help reduce the pollution caused by the generation of power through burning coal.

He said he looked forward to nuclear disarmament, an easing of regional tensions and, finally, a universal commitment to the exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy -- particularly in the Middle East and south Asia.

Blix pointed out that safety was a major concern but said he was happy that India has signed the convention on the safety of nuclear power plants last year. All he now wanted was the ratification of the landmark instrument, he said.

Blix said he strongly supported international peer review and welcomed the recent proposal for a review of the design of India's new 500 MW reactor design.

India to retain nuclear option

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