NSG likely to meet on Sept 20, Kakodkar for ‘early’ talks

NSG likely to meet on Sept 20, Kakodkar for ‘early’ talks

Vienna: A special meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is expected to be held here on 20 September to discuss the Indo-US nuclear deal as Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar pushed for “early" negotiations with IAEA and NSG to help implement it.

The NSG meeting, to be attended by the US and other countries of the 45-member grouping, is likely to hold preliminary discussions on change in guidelines to allow international nuclear trade with India.

Facing questions from Indian reporters here, Kakodkar emphasised that it was US responsibility to get NSG exemption for India.

India has to reach a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) soon and secure changes in NSG laws to operationalise the deal, he said.

Kakodkar, who is attending the IAEA General Conference, underpinned the importance for expeditiously operationalising the deal. “It is in everybody’s interest to conclude the nuclear deal sooner than later."

“Everyone in the nuclear community wants early negotiations between India and IAEA as also the NSG to implement the deal," he said.

But the top nuclear scientist made no direct mention on whether he will discuss the India-specific safeguards agreements with the IAEA during his current visit. “My lips are sealed on anything to do with the India-specific safeguards."

Kakodkar’s comments came as the US spoke of the urgency to conclude the processes to get the deal going. “Time is of the essence" to take the last steps in operationalising the agreement, US Ambassador to India David Mulford said in New Delhi.

Upping their ante, Left parties have asked the UPA government to put the implementation of the deal on hold for six months or face a “political crisis".

“India has made its position very clear that it expects clean, unconditional exemption after recognising it as a unique country," Kakodkar said adding, the US has to work this out.

“The 123 agreement has made provision for sustained supply of fuel for the imported reactors and the NSG guidelines would have to be consistent with it. That is why we are emphasising on clean, unconditional exemption," he said.

He said these things have to be done in a “correct manner fully protecting Indian interests."

In a related development, Indian Ambassador to Austria Sheel Kant Sharma had a meeting with the NSG’s Troika -- South Africa, Brazil and Germany (past, present and future leaders of the grouping) -- as part of an outreach programme of the NSG.

Kakodkar has met US Energy Secretary Samuel W Bodman, who has explained why India should complete the mandatory steps with IAEA and NSG.

IAEA sources said Kakodkar is expected to meet IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei during the week.

The AEC chief has also held meetings with his counterparts from the US, Russia, France, Vietnam, Bangladesh and South Africa on cooperation programmes.