India to start safeguard talks on US nuclear accord

India to start safeguard talks on US nuclear accord

The Indian government will start safeguard negotiations with the global atomic energy regulator as part of steps to implement a civilian nuclear accord with the US, after Communist allies lifted their objection to the move.

The Communist parties, key allies of the federal ruling coalition, allowed the government to hold initial talks with International Atomic Energy Agency on the condition the government won’t enter into an agreement without their prior approval.

“The government will proceed with the talks and the outcome will be presented to the committee for its consideration before it finalizes its findings," external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said after a meeting of a panel comprising members of the coalition and Communists. “The findings of the committee will be taken into account before the operationalization of the India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement."

The 2005 nuclear energy accord, which seeks to end three decades of India’s nuclear isolation and give access to US technology and equipment, has been delayed because of resistance from the Communist parties. The Left parties last week softened their stand after having earlier turned down the government’s plea to allow the start of negotiations with the IAEA.

The panel decided that discussions with the global regulator were required to understand the implications of the US-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act and the requirement for Congressional approval.