India hopeful of positive response from IAEA, NSG (Lead)July 30th, 2008 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) Ahead of a crucial meeting of the IAEA board Friday, India is hopeful that the UN nuclear watchdog will approve the New Delhi specific safeguards agreement unanimously despite Pakistan’s attempt to force a vote on the issue. The response from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) members and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) countries India contacted has been positive, an official source told IANS Wednesday.
Some IAEA and NSG countries have also formally conveyed their support, said the source but declined to name them.
With just two days to go for the IAEA board of governors meeting, India has left no stone unturned in influencing countries who are members of the nuclear watchdog and the 45-nation NSG.
Top nuclear officials are already in Vienna to begin talks on an additional protocol India is requited to negotiate with the IAEA.
Pakistan has raised several objections to certain clauses in the proposed India-specific safeguards agreement, but New Delhi is confident that such efforts will not succeed as there is an overwhelming support and goodwill for India in the IAEA, the official said.
The US has also spoken to the powers-that-be in Islamabad and exhorted them to see the India-US nuclear deal in the right perspective. The issue figured in discussions between US President George W. Bush and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in Washington.
With the clock ticking away, India and the US have also exchanged drafts of the “clean” exemption Washington plans to circulate in NSG.
India is keen to ensure that the draft is silent on nuclear testing and does not contain any extra conditions that are outside the July 18, 2005 India-US joint statement.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met the foreign minister of Algeria, a member of the IAEA board, in Tehran Tuesday night and sought its support for the India-specific safeguards agreement which the IAEA board will take up for approval in Vienna Aug 1.
He also met his counterparts from Egypt and Ghana, who are members of the IAEA.
Mukherjee also held talks with the foreign ministers of Cyprus and Belarus, which are members of the NSG, on the sidelines of the 15th ministerial meet of the Non-Alignment Movement.
The IAEA board’s approval of India’s safeguards pact will clear the way for a consideration by the NSG which is likely to meet in the first half of August to decide on changing its guidelines to favour global nuclear commerce with India.
With China keeping its cards close to its chest, India has also stepped up its lobbying to seek Beijing’s crucial support in the NSG.
Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan Tuesday met Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo in Beijing and handed over letters from Manmohan Singh to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao requesting China’s support in the NSG.
Beijing recently said it was studying the India-specific IAEA safeguards agreement and will make up its mind soon.
India is, however, hopeful that given its improving ties with China, Beijing will not stand in its way in the NSG.
Chavan is among a handful of ministers and diplomats who have fanned out to different countries who are members of the IAEA and NSG in a concerted effort to garner their support for the India-US nuclear deal that seeks to reopen doors for global civil commerce for New Delhi after a gap of three decades.
Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal is currently on a tour to Sweden and Finland, members of the NSG who are known for their strong anti-proliferation agenda.
Before leaving for Sweden Saturday, Sibal had told IANS he was hopeful that the nuclear deal will be wrapped up by September.