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IAEA not to interfere with India's strategic programme

July 10, 2008 14:32 IST

The draft Safeguards Agreement reached between New Delhi and International Atomic Energy Agency makes it clear that the UN watchdog will not interfere with India's military programme and the pact will apply only to the civilian nuclear facilities to be identified by India.

The text of the draft India-specific agreement, unveiled by the government on Thursday, acknowledges the plan made under the Indo-US civil nuclear deal by which India will offer its civilian atomic facilities to be put under safeguards, keeping out the military facilities.

The draft, which is a key step in implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal, envisages that India would undertake that none of the items produced in the safeguarded facilities and material received for them shall be used for the manufacture of any nuclear weapon or to further any other military purpose.

India expects smooth passage in IAEA

Such items shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not be used for the manufacture of any nuclear explosive device, says the draft, which was made public a day after the IAEA announced that the document has been circulated among its Board of Governors.

"....India shall file with the agency a declaration, based on its sovereign decision, to place voluntarily its civilian nuclear facilities under agency safeguards in a phased manner," it says.

".... the agency shall implement safeguards in a manner designed to avoid hampering India's economic or technological development, and not to hinder or otherwise interfere with any activities involving use by India of nuclear material, non-nuclear material, equipment, components, information or technology produced, acquired or developed by India independent of this agreement for its own purposes," it says.

The provision about not interfering with aspects of India's nuclear programme other than safeguarded nuclear facilities is significant in the context of apprehensions from various quarters, including political parties and some scientists, that the country's military programme could be affected by the pact.

The Left parties had attacked the government for not so far releasing the text of the agreement and questioned whether it was hiding anything that could compromise the country's nuclear sovereignty.

The draft agreement, which is to be approved by the IAEA Board of Governors, envisages support for Indian effort to develop a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel for safeguarded facilities to guard against any disruption of supply over the life time of India's reactors.

India may take corrective measures to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies, it says without elaborating.

The agreement recognises India's commitment to the full development of its national three-stage nuclear programme to meet the twin challenges of energy security and protection of the environment.

It also recognises India's inalienable right to carry out research and development activities for the welfare of its people and other peaceful purposes.

Under the agreement, the IAEA recognises India as a state with advanced nuclear technology which wishes to expand to civil nuclear cooperation for its development.

The draft agreement takes note of the Indo-US nuclear deal of 2005, under which India has stated its willingness to identify and separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities and programmes in a phased manner.

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