Friday, 1 August 2008

India-specific safeguards agreement may get IAEA nod

VIENNA: The India-specific safeguards pact, crucial for the landmark Indo-US nuclear deal to move forward, is expected to be approved by the IAEA Board of Governors here on Friday amid indications that China and Pakistan may abstain in case there is a vote.
The crucial one-day meeting will see statements delivered by the Indian and US Ambassadors to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as by the nuclear watchdog's Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
With the US and India going allout to get a comprehensive backing of the 35-member Board of Governors of the IAEA and its inspections plan by consensus, IAEA sources indicated that the approval process may not face any hurdles.
Pakistan's attempts to force a vote seems futile after the US nudged Islamabad not to block the approval or seek amendments.
IAEA sources said the safeguards text is likely to be approved by a consensus but in the highly unlikely event of a vote, China as well as its ally Pakistan may well abstain.
Lobbying hard for the safeguards text, the US has said that the pact was a net gain for global non-proliferation, placing India's declared civilian nuclear energy plants--14 of 22 existing or planned reactors--under regular IAEA watch.
US Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory L Schulte said the pact was sound.
Nicholas Burns, one of the architects of the Indo-US nuclear deal, said in Washington "my conviction is that this deal strengthens the non proliferation makes India a stakeholder."
Atomic Energy Commission Chief Anil Kakodkar and other top nuclear officials are here for negotiations on the safeguards agreement and an Additional Protocol to be cleared by the IAEA and to convince NSG members to give New Delhi a "clean" waiver for implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

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