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N-deal negotiatons on with IAEA
October 04, 2007 18:51 IST
Last Updated: October 04, 2007 18:56 IST
The United Progressive Alliance-Left stand-off on Indo-US nuclear deal notwithstanding, the Indian Atomic Energy department is holding consultations with International Atomic Energy Agency for working out a safeguards agreement under the deal.
"Since the process has to go on, we are holding consultations as we cannot wait till the last moment to make the agreed text ready, which is the pre-requisite for the draft agreement," a top source at the Department of Atomic Energy told PTI.
With intricacies involved in the negotiations on the safeguards issues, "it is expected that simultaneously several things had to be taken up and thus we have to go ahead with the continuous discussions/negotiations with the agency officials," the sources said.
In September during the IAEA general conference, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar could not formally take up any negotiations on the safeguards agreement due to political situation in India, although a few rounds of informal talks were carried out, sources said.
Early this week, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi [Images] in New York played down the Left's concerns on the Indo-US nuclear deal saying they were not a cause for "alarm" and said in a democratic process it was important to listen to all points of view to arrive at a consensus.
Since the nature of the safeguards for India has been decided and could be placed under the agency's safeguards system of 1966, it is better that the "agreed text" is being kept ready, sources said.
The IAEA safeguards agreement is one of the pre-requisites for commencement of international nuclear commerce.
Meanwhile, IAEA sources said last month that the provisionally extended safeguards system of 1966 is a revised system with additional provisions for reprocessing plants.
All future Indian nuclear plants under the civilian domain could be placed under the agency's safeguards mechanism that could be at par with that for the five declared nuclear powers.
Without creating India-specific safeguards, IAEA sources indicated that in all probability, they could be placed under the agency's safeguards system of 1965, as provisionally extended in 1966 and 1968.
This could be essentially on the same line as that of the safeguards arrangement made between India and IAEA for two units of the Tarapur atomic power plant set up in 1969 and two units in Rajasthan in 1971 and the two Russian plants, which are under construction at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.
DAE officials said the actual safeguard agreement may conform to safeguards system of 1966 and additional protocol may not be required by IAEA itself.
It is not clear whether the US Congress will accept an agreement which does not subscribe to additional protocol which has been made conditional to the bilateral understanding.