July 10, 2008

UN Nuclear Body Circulates Safeguards Draft of India-US Deal to Governing Board

Text of report by Indian news agency PTI

London/New Delhi, 9 July: Free from the clutches of the Left, the United Progressive Alliance [UPA] government Wednesday [9 July] moved ahead on the Indo-US nuclear deal when it approached the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] for circulating the draft nuclear safeguards accord to its Board of Governors for approval.

"At the request of the Government of India, the IAEA Secretariat today circulated to members of the IAEA board of governors for their consideration the draft of an 'Agreement with the Government of India for the Application of Safeguards to Civilian Nuclear Facilities'," International Atomic Energy Agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in a press statement issued at the Agency headquarters in Vienna.

The India-specific safeguards pact, which is the next step in the operationalisation of the deal, was sent to the 35-nation Board on a day when the Left parties withdrew support from the UPA government following a bitter feud over the deal which has remained stalled for several months.

The move described by Fleming as a "turning point" in India's efforts to push the deal came under attack from the Left and the Bharatiya Janata Party [main opposition party] which saw a contradiction in government's stand after External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday the IAEA will be approached only after the government wins a Trust vote. But the Congress said there is no contradiction.

Communist Party of India's D. Raja said the move was expected.

Fleming said the Board Chairman will consult members to fix a date to discuss the draft amid reports that a special governors meeting will be convened in Vienna on July 28 to discuss the safeguards text.

"The chairman of the board is consulting with board members to agree on a date for a board meeting when the agreement would be considered," she said.

Originally published by PTI news agency, New Delhi, in English 2143 09 Jul 08.

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