Safeguards pact approval is ‘important day’ for India: PM (Lead)

August 1st, 2008 - 10:37 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By M.R. Narayan Swamy
Colombo, Aug 1 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described as “an important day for India” the IAEA Board of Governors’ decision Friday to approve an India-specific safeguards pact, enabling the India-US civil nuclear deal to clear its first global test. Manmohan Singh, who is here to attend a two-day South Asian summit beginning Saturday, said he was delighted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had decided by consensus to approve the specific safeguards agreement.

He said in a statement that he was “deeply appreciative of the historic significance of the milestone in our cooperation with the IAEA and the international community in peaceful uses of atomic energy.”

The IAEA Board of Governors took the decision in Vienna after a meeting that lasted nearly four hours. The safeguards agreement aims at bringing 14 Indian nuclear power reactors under international safeguards over the coming years.

Manmohan Singh, who almost risked his government last month over the India-US nuclear deal, said the civil initiative was “good for India and good for the world.

“As we move forward towards our goal of sustainable development and energy security, the peaceful uses of atomic energy will play an increasingly important role.

“I am grateful to the members of the IAEA Board of Governors, to our partners and friends abroad, and, in particular, to the US, for making this important step in the IAEA possible.”

The prime minister said IAEA chief Mohammad ElBradei had also “played a significant role and we look forward to working with him and his agency in implementing this agreement”.

With the IAEA board’s approval of the safeguards pact, India now expects that the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), scheduled to meet Aug 21, will grant a clean and unconditional exemption to New Delhi to undertake nuclear commerce with the global community.

Earlier in Vienna, Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the Department of Atomic Energy, told the IAEA board that India’s integration into the global civil nuclear community was “a win-win situation for all”.

“Global efforts to promote energy security, sustainable development and effective non-proliferation will stand to gain with India as a partner.

“Our national export controls still remain on par with the best international standards. We have our principled and consistent position on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament issues.”

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