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Home > News > PTI

IAEA meeting successful: Kakodkar

Lalitha Vaidyanathan in Vienna | September 23, 2007 18:18 IST

India received recognition as the most advanced nation in nuclear fuel cycle technology at the International Atomic Energy Agency meet and there was greater awareness of the 'larger role' of nuclear power in meeting global energy needs, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar said on Sunday.

Kakodkar, who attended the UN atomic watchdog's 51st General Conference, remained mum on whether there were any discussions with the IAEA on the India-specific safeguards agreement, a pre-requisite for the operationalisation of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

"I will not say anything on that," Kakodkar said, shortly before his departure when asked about his informal discussions with IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei.

India also has to secure changes in the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group to gain access to nuclear commerce.

Left parties, which have been stoutly opposing the deal, have demanded that its operationalisation be put on hold for six months failing which the UPA government will have to face 'grave' consequences.

Describing the week-long IAEA meet as 'successful,' Kakodkar told PTI it was so particularly this year because of the 'greater awareness of the larger role of nuclear energy in meeting the global energy needs.'

He said the meet was important for several reasons 'particularly India's recognition as the most advanced nation in nuclear fuel cycle technology by the world leaders.'

During the two-day scientific meet, an integral part of the General Conference of the IAEA that was attended by about 500 participants, the importance of 'closed nuclear fuel cycle' was widely discussed by scientists as also India's expertise in the field.

Experts were curious to know about India's thorium-based power plant and fast-breeder reactors.

"We were also the first to pilot a resolution on the development and deployment of Small and medium reactors supported by several countries and passed unanimously at the general conference," Kakodkar said.

Making a strong pitch for international nuclear energy cooperation with India at the forum, Kakodkar while addressing the forum had made it clear that nuclear power was an 'inevitable option' and pressed for 'reformation' of global thinking on it.

Kakodkar favoured a closed fuel cycle to reduce the risk of proliferation of fissile material, a proposal backed by several countries.

Currently, the spent fuel from atomic power plants is stocked in high security facilities. This fuel can be reprocessed to extract plutonium, which can be used to create nuclear weapons.

"We cannot put future security at risk through the once-through cycle," he had argued.

The one time use of uranium fuel should not promoted as it is important for the world to make use of the spent fuel to maximise the energy production and minimise the radioactive waste, he had contended.

Kakodkar also emphasised that in order to meet the huge energy demands of the world community it was important to have inclusive partnership and make sure that those countries, which are keen to develop nuclear power for the first time should have basic minimum infrastructure and human resource needed for it.

"This will ensure that no uncertainty remains."      

The IAEA has been generally supportive of the nuclear deal with its chief ElBaradei describing it as 'good' and 'a step in the right direction.'

The US, pressing for implementation of the deal by year-end, briefed the NSG on the salient aspects of the 123 Agreement reached with India.

Richard Stratford, Director, US Nuclear Energy, Safety and Security said he was hopeful that India will get a 'clean, unconditional exemption' from NSG.

"Since we have a timeframe, we want India also to complete the process of safeguards before the deal is placed for Congressional vote," Stratford told PTI.

"Although we respect India's democratic political system," he said, the deal was important from the point of global energy needs.

Russia's [Images] Atomic Energy Agency chief Kirienko Sergeit said he would like India to have a waiver from NSG, which would enable the two countries to have nuclear trade.

India was also the first country to ratify the amendments that were negotiated at the IAEA conference for the convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials that concluded in Vienna on Friday.

India donated a teletherapy machine Bhabhatron's latest version developed by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre to IAEA which in turn handed it over to Vietnam. A tripartite agreement was signed in this regard during the conference.

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