India to ink safeguards pact with IAEA

February 2nd, 2009 - 7:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) India will sign a unique safeguards agreement with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) later Monday - a key step that will enable the resumption of global civil nuclear commerce with New Delhi. India’s Ambassador to Vienna Saurabh Kumar and IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei will ink the India-specific safeguards agreement in Vienna later in the day.

“The agreement is based on goodwill and trust between India and the IAEA. It’s an assurance to the international community to enable the resumption of international civil nuclear cooperation with India,” Saurabh Kumar told IANS from Vienna hours before the signing of the agreement.

Two officials of the department of atomic energy, including director (strategic planning) Ravi B. Grover and joint secretary Gitesh Sarma are already in Vienna for the signing of the agreement.

The 35-member board of the IAEA had approved the India-specific safeguards agreement Aug 1 last year - an important step that paved the way for a waiver by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on Sep 6.

The safeguards agreement is unique in as much as it allows India to enter global nuclear commerce while retaining its military nuclear reactors.

The inking of the safeguards agreement with IAEA clears the way for the actual resumption of nuclear trade between India and the world.

The safeguards agreement has, however, to be ratified by the Indian government before it can use the pact to import nuclear reactors and fuels. India has already signed civil nuclear agreements with the US, France, Russia and Kazakhstan.

The signing of the safeguards agreement will be followed by negotiations on an additional protocol. Negotiations have begun, but the two sides have yet to evolve a draft of the additional protocol.

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