Saturday, December 4, 2010

For first time, India agrees to put all its n-reactors under safeguard

Only on paper but for first time, India agrees to put all its n-reactors under safeguards

Marking a significant shift, India for the first time voted today in favour of a proposal at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board to create a fuel bank that has an eligibility condition so far associated only with signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty — comprehensive safeguards regime.
This, essentially, means that a country eligible to access the IAEA’s fuel bank, a US-backed proposal with support from EU and other NPT countries, will have to place all its nuclear reactors under safeguards.

India does not qualify for this because it has a military nuclear programme as also agreed under the separation plan following the Indo-US nuclear deal. Yet, India voted in favour of the proposal that provides for nuclear fuel in case of emergency conditions but with pre-requisites which India has always opposed.

In all, 28 countries voted in favour while six chose to abstain. Pakistan was the only country that was absent from the vote in the Board.

Sources said the advice to India was to abstain from the vote since it did not fully concern India but the political decision in New Delhi was to cast the vote in favour of the proposal.

Sources said India gave a detailed explanation of its vote where it made it clear that it did not intend to subscribe to this arrangement. Further, India made it known that the eligibility condition of having comprehensive safeguards was “discriminatory” because not all countries in the IAEA board were signatories to the NPT.

Despite these clarifications, India surprised the board by voting in favour of resolution. This, sources said, was prompted by the assessment that India is not going to access this fuel bank. This bank, according to New Delhi, is “very small” and currently pledges only about $50 million which is of little practical value to the Indian nuclear programme. However, under the n-deal, India can enter into arrangements for storing lifetime supply of fuel for its nuclear reactors.


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