IAEA approves India nuclear pact (updated)
The 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) has approved an inspection agreement with India. This is good news for the current Indian UPA government as it just passed a confidence vote over its handling of the nuclear issue. India is a non signatory country of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Pact and conducted nuclear military tests in 1998 at Pokhran. Despite such records, it managed to get the approval of the IAEA for the inspection deal which is a precondition to have an American Cooperation agreement passed at US Congress. This India-US nuclear deal is a Bush initiative which is pushed through before the end of his administration.
The 22-page framework calls on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify that certain declared Indian nuclear material and facilities are used only for peaceful purposes. In his address to the Board of Governors, the Director General of the IAEA Mohamed ElBaradei said the agency would begin to implement the new safeguards agreement in 2009, with the aim of bringing a total of 14 Indian reactors under agency safeguards by 2014. The IAEA currently applies safeguards to six Indian nuclear reactors under existing agreements. “The ‘umbrella’ nature of this agreement provides a more efficient mechanism for ensuring that safeguards requirements can be met. It satisfies India’s needs while maintaining all the agency’s legal requirements,” Dr. ElBaradei
IAEA approves India nuclear pact
The UN's atomic watchdog has approved an inspections agreement with India that is key to finalising a nuclear deal between New Delhi and Washington. The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-member board of governors gave their support to the agreement in a closed session in Vienna, the Austrian capital, on Friday. Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief of the IAEA, touched on diplomatic concern that parts of the draft blur divisions between civil and military atomic sectors, with a possible loophole allowing India to transfer bomb-grade fuel separated from civilian stocks to its military programme. "These are not comprehensive or full-scope safeguards [unlike with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) member states] ... [But] it satisfies India's needs while maintaining all the agency's legal requirements," he said. "As with other safeguards agreements between the agency and member states, the agreement is of indefinite duration. There are no conditions for discontinuation ... other than those provided by the safeguards agreement itself."
Approval from the IAEA was a pre-condition for the India-US nuclear deal to take affect so that a system of extended checks can follow. The pact to share civilian technology was first unveiled in 2005 by George Bush, the US president, and Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, to help India enter the global commercial nuclear fold after being shut out for decades. A total 14 of India's 22 reactors, six of which are already subject to other IAEA safeguards agreements, are expected to come under the agency's inspection norms by 2014 - the first ones as early as 2009.
'Not an answer'
Washington says the deal ushers India towards the non-proliferation mainstream and fights global warming by promoting the use of low-polluting nuclear energy in surging developing economies and reducing the use of oil and gas. However, Todd Baer, Al Jazeera's correspondent in India, said some experts say the deal is not the answer to solving India's power crisis. "In fact, they say it will create more problems for this country on the global stage," Baer said. Depsite this, Singh believes a nuclear deal with the US is part of the answer to his country's energy needs. "This decision was taken with the fullest confidence that we are doing so in the best interest of our people and our country," Singh said.
The decision to provide access to US nuclear fuel and technology to a country that has not signed the NPT and has developed atomic bombs in secret, conducting its first nuclear test in 1974, has concerned some analysts. Before it can sign the deal with the US, India also needs a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a group of 45 states exporting nuclear fuel and technology, whose rules ban trade with non-NPT countires. The deal can then go to the US congress where it must still be ratified. The NSG is not expected to discuss exempting India from its rules until September, which could push ratification back to January 2009.