Bangalore: Notwithstanding the US contention that time is running out on the nuclear deal, the government on Monday sought to justify the delay in finalizing the safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying it was taking time as such a pact was being negotiated for the first time.
Taking time: Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar.
“If we are following a standard template, then it’s one story, that much easier. (But since this is the first time) it takes time,” Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar said.
India and IAEA have held four rounds of talks since November, but failed to firm up the agreement, which is a crucial step for implementation of the Indo-US nuclear deal.
The two sides have differences on issues such as allowing India to create strategic reserve for the lifetime of its civilian nuclear plants and corrective measures in the event of stoppage of fuel supplies because of any reason.
Besides these conditions, India has been insisting on IAEA’s acknowledgement of its strategic programme by accepting the Separation Plan finalized with the US.
The last round of talks was held in the third week of January. The two sides were to meet again in the middle of this month, but no dates have yet been fixed.
Asked if the time was running out for the Indo-US nuclear deal, Kakodkar said: “The point is we have to get this done as early as possible, but it has to be correctly done and it has to meet all the requirements and so it’s a long technical process. There are several steps. We have to go through step-by-step.”
“There are complex issues. You have to deal with them one-by-one. It will take time. But it’s moving forward. We hope to do it as soon as possible,” Kakodkar said.
The US has been insisting that the safeguards agreement needed to be finalized fast as time was running out. US ambassador in New Delhi David Mulford even said it could be now or never for India to have such a deal if it is not completed during the tenure of President George W. Bush.
Asked about the “implications” for the US and India if the deal does not go through, Kakodkar said: “We should continue our efforts. I will keep working for it. We should keep making our honest efforts.”