India briefs IAEA board, NSG on n-deal

July 19th, 2008 - 1:10 am ICT by IANS  

Vienna, July 18 (IANS) India Friday briefed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) countries on the safeguards agreement and other aspects of its nuclear deal with the US to muster support for its quest for global nuclear cooperation. Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon briefed the 35-member IAEA board. Of the 35 nations in the IAEA board, 26 are NSG members and the remaining 19 countries were invited for the briefing in the run up to the board’s scheduled meeting in Vienna Aug 1.

He also sought to allay their concerns about the implications of the pact on the global non-proliferation scenario, saying India’s re-entry into the international fuel market will only strengthen nuclear order, official sources said.

Menon underlined the importance of environmentally clean nuclear energy for a growing economy like India and assured them that given its track record in nuclear non-proliferation, the international community should have no worries about the pact.

The board’s approval is necessary before before the 45-nation NSG decides on amending its guidelines to restore global nuclear trade with India.

The proposed India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA, that was unveiled last week, meets three of New Delhi’s key concerns - uninterrupted fuel supply for its safeguarded reactors, strategic fuel reserve and right to take corrective action in case of disruption of fuel supply.

Hours before the special briefing, that coincided with the third anniversary of the July 18, 2005, India-US civil nuclear understanding, Menon met IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, a strong advocate of the India-US nuclear deal and discussed the pact.

ElBaradei also met US Undersecretary of State William Burns, who is in Vienna to push the nuclear deal with the IAEA board and NSG countries.

Menon was supported by R.B. Grover, the chief negotiator of the India-US safeguards agreement and director of strategic planning in the Department of Atomic Energy, at the briefing.

Indian Ambassador in Vienna Saurabh Singh was also part of the team that briefed the IAEA and NSG members.

The briefing focused on winning sceptics in the NSG like Austria, Ireland, Australia and Norway and tried to assuage their concerns about the impact of the safeguards pact and the India-US nuclear deal on the global non-proliferation order.

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