IAEA clears India's safeguard agreement

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Vienna, Aug 1: IAEA clears India's safeguards agreement. Indian safeguard pact is cleared by consensus. IAEA board authorises to conclude safeguard agreement. This end India's thirty years of isolation in Civil nuclear co- operation field. Iran, Ireland and Switzerland had difference over the agreement when the draft was tabled. Earlier on Friday, August 1 strongly backing the India specific safeguards agreement, IAEA chief said that it satisfies India's needs while maintaining "all the legal requirements" of the UN atomic watchdog.

India to go to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) next. 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.

Tabling the draft agreement before the 35 members of Board of Governors, the IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei said the agreement's 'umbrella' nature provides a more efficient mechanism for ensuring that safeguards requirements can be met.

"It (agreement) satisfies India's needs while maintaining all the Agency's legal requirements. Such an 'umbrella' approach could also be used for the conclusion of other 66-type safeguards agreements," El Baradei 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 said adding that six of them were already under IAEA supervision.

IAEA expected to start implementing the agreement at new facilities in 2009. Facilities will be notified by India to the Agency in stages and the Secretariat will inform the IAEA members when facilities are submitted for safeguards, he said.

The IAEA chief said India and the IAEA have already begun discussions on an Additional Protocol, which will be specific to the country.

The UN atomic watchdog's board of governors is meeting here to decide the fate of a safeguards agreement, a key step for the operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Sources said that a "smooth passage" of the safeguards agreement that will open up India's nuclear facilities to the inspections by the watchdog is expected.

As with other safeguards agreements between the Agency and Member States, the agreement is of indefinite duration, El Baradei said.

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