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US arms expert claims flaws in India's safeguards text
July 10, 2008 22:42 IST
A leading American arms expert has picked holes in the draft nuclear safeguards accord submitted by India to the International Atomic Energy Agency saying there are some clauses which may raise questions on the effectiveness of the nuclear watchdog to monitor the country's civilian nuclear programme.Though much of the 23-page document is in line with other standard safeguard agreements. Kimball especially picked out the clause in the draft which said India "may take corrective measures to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies." Kimball said this provision could open the possibility of restricting IAEA monitoring of the country's civilian atomic power programme. "The board should ask what corrective measures are supposed to mean," Kimball said, adding, it could mean "we will withdraw from safeguards those facilities that we need to withdraw from and we will use in those facilities other, unsupervised fuel sources."
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, said the provisions needed clarity before the IAEA gives its seal of approval to the safeguards pact, which is the next step in the operationalisation of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal. The draft was circulated to IAEA's Board of Governors in Vienna on Wednesday.
Kimball said the draft also does not make a mention of nuclear facilities that India has voluntarily agreed to place under IAEA safeguards saying it was 'abnormal'. Although those facilities --14 of the nation's 22 reactors--are listed in a separate and widely published Civil Nuclear Separation Plan drawn up two years ago by India, the empty annexe raised questions among critics.
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