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Sovereign interests protected in IAEA deal: Centre

July 12, 2008 20:47 IST
Last Updated: July 12, 2008 21:52 IST

The UPA government on Friday insisted that the country's "sovereign" interests, including in strategic nuclear field, were protected in the IAEA safeguards agreement and expressed confidence about getting an exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The government also ruled out putting Fast Breeder Test Reactors under the IAEA safeguards and asserted that the country's Intellectual Property Rights are firmly protected.

With questions being raised over the agreement, the government fielded its top officials -- National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar and chief negotiator R B Grover -- to "explain" that the pact is in India's interest.

They claimed that the agreement was still under negotiation when the Left parties decided to withdraw support to the government and was initialled on July 7.

A formal letter to IAEA, asking it to circulate the draft, was sent on July 8 after the Left parties announced their decision not to attend the last meeting of UPA-Left committee scheduled for July 10 which was to finalise its findings.

"A negotiating text of an agreement cannot be given out till it is complete," Menon told a press conference.

They said the agreement was not initiated till the Indian government was satisfied that all its interests have been protected.

Asked whether India could withdraw from the agreement if supplies were disrupted to a particular facility, Narayanan said if such a situation arises, India would have the right to take corrective steps.

Kakodkar said the "corrective" measures will include legal steps. The corrective steps will depend on the threat of disruption to a nuclear facility.

He, however, expressed confidence that such a situation will not arise, arguing that there are enough layers to ensure that operation of a nuclear facility is not disrupted.

In this regard, he cited the provision for uninterrupted supplies and creation of strategic reserve for the lifetime of a reactor.

If there is disruption in supplies, India will report it to the IAEA, Kakodkar said. He, however, added that discontinuation will not happen suddenly as there is provision for discussions.

Kakodkar was also dismissive about the argument that the safeguards agreement treats India as a non-nuclear weapon country.

"We are a nuclear weapon state. We know that and the world knows that. We should not worry about that," he said.

He maintained that the definition of nuclear weapon state was derived from NPT, of which India is not a part.

To press his point, he said the IAEA safeguards agreement recognises that India has a nuclear programme outside the civil nuclear programme.

To a question, Kakodkar said India can export nuclear items to a third country as per the export guidelines, which are "very strict".

While exporting, India will be insisting that the receiving country puts the particular facility under IAEA safeguards, he said.

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