Menon meets IAEA chief; to brief IAEA, NSG

July 18th, 2008 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, July 18 (IANS) Ahead of briefing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-member board of governors and representatives of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon Friday met IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and discussed the text of an India-specific safeguards agreement. Menon told ElBaradei, a strong advocate of the India-US civil nuclear deal, about the finer aspects of the safeguards pact and sought to know from him the perception among the IAEA board about the pact.

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

Later Friday, Menon will meet the IAEA board and delegates of the NSG countries to allay their concerns about the implications of the pact on the global non-proliferation architecture.

The special briefing, coinciding with the third anniversary of the July 18, 2005 India-US civil nuclear understanding, will he held at a place outside the premises of the IAEA secretariat.

Menon is leading an Indian team comprising senior officials of the external affairs ministry and the Department of Atomic Energy that includes R.B. Grover, the chief negotiator of the India-US safeguards agreement and DAE’s director (Strategic Planning).

Indian Ambassador in Vienna Saurabh Singh is also part of the delegation.

Of the 35 nations in the IAEA board, 26 are NSG members. The remaining 19 NSG countries have also been invited for the briefing in the run up to the board’s scheduled meeting in Vienna August 1.

The IAEA board will have to approve the India-specific safeguards pact before the 45-nation NSG decides on amending its guidelines to resume global nuclear trade with India after a gap of more than 30 years.

Menon is likely to underline India’s impeccable non-proliferation record despite not having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and stress that the country’s burgeoning economy needs environmentally clean fuel like nuclear energy.

The safeguards agreement that was unveiled last week, meets three of New Delhi’s key concerns: uninterrupted fuel supplies for its safeguarded reactors, a strategic fuel reserve, and the right to take corrective action in case fuel supplies are disrupted.

The briefing is aimed at winning scpetics in the NSG like Austria, Ireland, Australia and Norway and assuage concerns about the impact of the safeguards pact and the India-US nuclear deal on the global non-proliferation order.

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