IAEA set to approve India pact

Safeguard move clears the way for an India-US nuclear deal to take affect.

    ElBaradei, the IAEA chief, said the deal met the agency's legal requirements [AFP]

    The pact to share civilian technology was 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.

    'Not an answer'

    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.

    However, India's prime minister believes a nuclear deal with the US is part of the answer.

    "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.

    Gregory Schulte, the US ambassador to the IAEA, urged the board to approve the agreement.

    Shulte said the agreement was "little different" from those between the IAEA and other countries "which have invariable been adopted by this body swiftly and by consensus," he said.

    'Umbrella agreement'

    "It is an umbrella agreement, which provides for any facility notified by India to the agency in the future to become subject to safegaurds," ElBaradei said.

    "Precisely because it is an umbrella agreement (that does not  identify specific facility under supervision), India will also be able, in the future, to add other facilities engaged in peaceful  nuclear activities to that list and place them under safeguards," Schulte said.

    However, the decision to provide access to US nuclear fuel and technology to a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has developed atomic bombs in secret and conducted its first nuclear test in 1974 are some of the critics biggest concerns.

    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.

    'Unfair' decision

    Rafoul Bidwai, a commentator on Indian nuclear issues, told Al Jazeera is the wrong course to adopt for India because it will take years for result, cost a lot of money and provide a minimal amount of energy

    "This is part of a larger arrangement of sealing a large strategic partnership or aligns with the US and our prime minister believes this is the legacy he is going to leave behind," he said.

    Sherine Muzari, a Pakistani nuclear defence expert told Al Jazeera that the IAEA decision isn't fair.

    "India is not the only country with massive power shortages, Pakistan is undergoing similar problems. The IAEA deal destroys the safeguard arrangements that all countries sign with IAEA including a country like Pakistan that has not signed the NPT.

    "What the Indians have done is they have sought to have a country-specific exception to the normal IAEA safeguard for non-NPT members and we feel that this will be the final nail in the coffin in the non-proliferation treaty," Muzari said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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