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India to brief IAEA board of governors on July 18

July 15, 2008 00:36 IST

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Indo-US Nuclear Tango

Even before it faces the confidence vote in the Lok Sabha, the government will brief the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors in Vienna on July 18 on the India-specific safeguards agreement, which the board is likely to discuss on August 1 to help the implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

India on Monday informed the 35 member-countries on the board of governors about the July 18 briefing, IAEA sources said.

The invitation for the briefing on the safeguards, initialled by India and IAEA on July 7, was sent out by Indian Ambassador to Austria Saurabh Kumar.

A senior official of the external affairs ministry is leaving for Vienna on Wednesday to attend the briefing. He was given a brief on his Vienna assignment by top officials in India on Monday.

A crucial meeting of IAEA board of governors to build a consensus on India-specific safeguards accord essential to help implement Indo-US nuclear deal has been postponed from its tentative date of July 28 and is likely to be held on August 1, the sources said.

They said informal consultations among 35 members of IAEA board of governors were on seeking the consensus and a formal meeting is likely on August 1.

The safeguards agreement was circulated among all 144 member-countries of the world body on the same day.

The document was put on the Web site of the Ministry of External Affairs, a day after the Left parties accused the government of refusing to make it public.

The IAEA safeguards agreement is an essential step India has to take to integrate with international nuclear commerce before it secures a one-time waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Normally, the IAEA board of governors meets 45 days after a country submits the draft safefuard agreement for circulation, something that was done on July 7.

However, in the case of India, the board took up with a sense of urgency due to the support the agreement has from the IAEA head Mohamed Elbaradei and the eagerness shown by India and the United States to wrap up their bilateral nuclear deal during the tenure of the George W Bush [Images] as American president.

After the deal goes through the IAEA and NSG, it needs to be voted by the US Congress.

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