Indian negotiators work out ‘details’ of IAEA safeguards accord (Night Lead)

August 1st, 2008 - 12:13 am ICT by IANS  

Vienna, July 31 (IANS) Indian negotiators remained locked till late Thursday night over an India specific additional protocol to be presented to the IAEA Board of Governors meeting Friday. Fleeing from the busy corridors of the IAEA offices at the Vienna International Centre, the Indian negotiators locked themselves in the privacy of a hotel room here.

The Friday meeting is expected to “unanimously” approve India’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA together with an additional protocol, which is unique to India.

Together with Ravi B. Grover and Gitesh Sarma from the Department of Atomic Energy, Anil Kakodkar, Indian Atomic Energy Commission chief, burnt the proverbial midnight oil here to ready ‚Äúdetails” of an additional protocol before the Friday meeting.

In the past, the IAEA has worked with two templates of additional protocol - one for nuclear weapons countries and the other for non-nuclear weapon countries. This India specific additional protocol template is perhaps the first international document that mentions India as a nuclear weapon state, although indirectly.

The approval of the safeguards agreement will allow the agency access to India’s civilian nuclear programme.

India’s nuclear deal will be tabled before the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) soon after the Friday meeting. The NSG, which has no permanent office, is expected to meet in Vienna later in August.

The 45-nation NSG will have to unanimously agree to make an exception in allowing nuclear sales to a country like India that is not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and not subject to a nuclear embargo by the NSG for having tested nuclear device.

Once the technical requirements like the India specific additional protocol and the safeguards agreement are approved by the IAEA, lobbying will begin once again to get an unanimous approval from the NSG.

The US Congress will review and approve India’s nuclear deal with America, before it becomes operational.

(Eds: Please pick up suitably from earlier story.)

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