'India's concerns must get reflected in IAEA accord'

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New Delhi, Jan 13: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed the hope that New Delhi's concern would get adequately reflected in the India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

''We are concerned about three matters. Firstly, we are concerned about assured fuel supply. Secondly, India should have the right to build a strategic reserve in case of unitended disruption in the supply of fuel and thirdly India's strategic programme should be pursued independently and not get affected in any way,'' he said in an interview with Karan Thapar for CNBC TV 18's 'India Tonight' programme to be telecast tomorrow night.

Mr Mukherjee said these concerns should get adequately reflected in IAEA's India-specific safeguards agreement.

''That is why we are taking about India-specific agreement, which is different from other arrangements.'' Asked if satisfactory progress was being made in the deal, he said the negotiations were going on. ''I am happy the way negotiations are going on. But, if it addresses all our concerns or not, I cannot comment unless I see the entire agreed text,'' Mr Mukherjee added.

India has so far held three rounds of discussions to finalise an agreement to keep its future nuclear facilities under IAEA supervision. The next round of talks is scheduled to be on January 15.

The agreed text would then be put up to the IAEA Board of Governors for their concurrence. India would then have to approach the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) for a unanimous exemption by its member countries. Separately, India also had to reach bilateral agreements on the issue with several countries.

The Minister said he was not in a position to say if the deal would be finally approved by the US Congress. ''We can't say if it would be approved or not. We don't have that luxury.'' Asked about the reaction of the Bush administration if the deal was put on hold, Mr Mukherjee said they (US) do understand India's political difficulties. ''We are in discussion with each other. We do understand each other's difficulties. But, there is some adverse impact if one fails to implement and operationalise a major international deal,'' he added.

However, the Minister ruled out any impact of the non-implementation of the nuclear deal on the permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

''In the same manner, there is no guarantee of the UNSC permanent membership if the deal is through and fructified,'' he added.

Asked if the UPA Government would defy the Left to secure the deal, Mr Mukherjee said ''let us wait and see how the ground realities unfold.''

UNI

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