Mumbai: India will on Monday sign a crucial safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to allow supply of atomic fuel and technology to the country, moving a step closer to operationalizing its international civil nuclear cooperation after the 34-year-old nuke trade embargo was lifted.
“We will sign the India-specific safeguards agreement (Issa), a key inspection agreement, in the afternoon of Monday in Vienna. Issa was approved by the 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency on 1 August last year and now it will get ready for operationalization of the civil cooperation,” Indian ambassador in Vienna Saurab Kumar said over phone.
Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, which is operating its reactors at less than 40% capacity, may benefit in the form of fuel import once Issa is ratified by the Indian government. India has already signed agreements with the US, France, Russia and Kazakhstan and is planning to sign one with Canada for resumption of nuclear commerce.
A step closer: IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Mark H. Milstein / Bloomberg
The agreement with IAEA is a pre-condition for the implementation of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal and allows the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) to supply material and technology for India’s ambitious nuclear power programme.
Asked about when India would be signing the additional protocol, a mandatory step according to the nuclear deal between India and the US, Kumar said: “ It is under discussion with IAEA. It takes time to evolve a draft. But once it is ready, it will be signed.”