Vienna, Aug 1: The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet on Friday, Aug 1 for a crucial session to consider for approval a key step for the operationalisation of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.
Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar will have a series of meetings to ensure a smooth sailing at the IAEA Board of Governors and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Kakodkar is expected to hold talks with all NSG members to bring them on board for giving India a "clean and unconditional waiver" ahead of the group's first meeting early next month. India is a member of IAEA, but not the NSG. Earlier, the IAEA Board of Governors had on July 19 said that India is yet to remove all ambiguities regarding its draft safeguards pact vis-a-vis the India-US civil nuclear cooperation deal.
Speaking after a briefing provided to it by Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and Dr R B Gupta, Director (Strategic Planning) and Secretary in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), IAEA board members and some of the representatives of the 45-nation NSG said they still had concerns about potential loopholes in the draft text, which could allow New Delhi to terminate the pact.
Others said that ambiguities remained about unspecified "corrective measures" referred to in the text, which India may take if its nuclear fuel supply were interrupted. Diplomats and advocates of non-proliferation believe this clause could allow India to terminate IAEA inspections if the US or other nations stopped supplying it with nuclear material after an Indian nuclear test.
Board members, however, said that they are likely to adopt the safeguards pact at their next meeting.
Several IAEA members say that the safeguards agreement gives India too much discretion in deciding what facilities would be monitored and when the IAEA would start doing so.
European Union members on the board have demanded another formal briefing by IAEA officials that will take place on August 25, as Friday's meeting was an informal event.
After the IAEA Board approves the text, the NSG, the 45-nuclear exporting countries that define export control rules, have to make an exemption for India, as it is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Only then will the US Congress ratify the nuclear pact with India.
But first, India's government has to survive a confidence vote in parliament on July 22 over the nuclear deal with the US. Left parties say the pact would compromise India's strategic sovereignty.