Vienna, August 1 : The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors on Friday approved the India-specific safeguards agreement by consensus.
It is a key step towards finalising the Indo-US nuclear deal and bringing India closer to ending nuclear isolation. The agreement got the nod from the 35-member Board of Governors of the IAEA after a three-hour meeting in Vienna on Friday.
After go ahead by the IAEA, India still needs a waiver from the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for resumption of nuclear trade and approval by the US Congress before the deal comes into force.
The nuke accord may come before the US Congress for ratification sometime next month once the NSG clearance is obtained.
After the meeting, the Board of governors authorised IAEA Director General Muhammed ElBaradei to conclude with the Indian government and subsequently implement the India-specific safeguards pact.
Earlier, strongly backing the India specific safeguards agreement, Mohamed EL Baradei has said it satisfies India's needs while maintaining all the legal requirements of the Unityed Nations atomic watchdog.
Tabling the draft Agreement before the Board of Governors, he said the agreement's umbrella nature provides a more efficient mechanism for ensuring that safeguards requirements can be met.
Elbaradei said the India specific safeguards agreement could also be used for the conclusion of other 66 type safeguards agreements.
He said according to India's Plan, which has been circulated for the information of all IAEA Member States, a total of 14 reactors are envisaged to come under Agency safeguards by 2014.
He added that six of them are already under IAEA supervision. He said IAEA expected to start implementing the agreement at new facilities in 2009.
In the first reaction from the Indian government, Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal voiced optimism that New Delhi will get a "clean and unconditional" exemption at the NSG, which is likely to meet around 21st of this month in Vienna.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmahan Singh also welcomed the approval of India specific safeguard agreement by the IAEA Board of Governors and described it as an important day for the country and also for the civil nuclear initiative for the resumption of India's cooperation with other friends.
In a statement read out by the Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, Dr. Singh said the civil nuclear initiative is not only good for India but for the entire world.
He said, as India moves towards its goal of sustainable development and energy security, the peaceful uses of atomic energy will play an increasingly important role.
The Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the members of the IAEA Board of Governors, to India's partners and friends abroad and in particular the USA for making this important step possible.
He said the Director General of the IAEA Dr. El Baradei has played a significant role and India looks forward to working with him and his agency in implementing this agreement.