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India-IAEA final round of talks on Jan 16
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
The fourth and final round of India-IAEA talks on India-specific safeguards will be held in Vienna on January 16. The Indian technical team will leave for Vienna on January 15 for the crucial round where the nuts and bolts of the final agreement will be fastened.

It is understood that the two sides have acquired a fair amount of convergence and the 35-nation body had agreed to most of the Indian concerns. The Left parties had conveyed their concerns to the government mainly on four points: continuity of fuel supply, inspections to be carried out only by the IAEA, strategic fuel reserves and provision of alternate fuel from rest of the world in case the US stops fuel supplies in the event of a fresh nuclear test by India.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee’s contention is that these issues are not merely the concerns of the Left parties but of the entire nation.

The IAEA is understood to have agreed to Indian suggestions on the first two points and is believed to have an open mind on the other two.

Sources said there was a forward movement on the India-IAEA talks and disagreed with the prophets of doom. The talks have spilled over to the fourth round not because of differences alone but because such an agreement is going to be an agreement in perpetuity and the UPA government would like to do an open-and-shut job.

The subject is too technical and New Delhi would have to make sure that everything is in perfect order. India and the International Atomic Energy Agency will have to successfully negotiate a highly-technical document called INFCIRC 66 which focuses circumstances requiring safeguards, nuclear materials subject to safeguards, exemption from safeguards, exemption related to reactors, suspension of safeguards, termination of safeguards, transfer of safeguarded nuclear material out of the state, safeguards procedures, routine inspections, initial inspection of principal nuclear facilities, special inspections, special procedure for reactors, special procedures relating to safeguarded nuclear material outside principal nuclear facilities and design of storage facilities

Besides these, there are scores of technical definitions like “conversion plant” and “fabrication plant” which have to be agreed to between the two sides.



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