India and IAEA begin next round of nuclear talks

Other News Materials 25 February 2008 20:26 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Nuclear negotiators from India resumed talks with officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna Monday, discussing India-specific nuclear safeguards, IAEA officials said.

The talks, that had been going on since November have so far failed to reach agreement, adding pressure on the US-Indo nuclear deal.

A key point was a failure to agree on a guarantee for uninterrupted fuel supply by the IAEA and giving India the right for corrective measures in case of disruption.

Negotiations are expected to continue until the end of the week, with hopes diminishing that a deal will be approved by the IAEA's 35- nation Board of Governors which meets next week.

In this case, India would miss a US May deadline.

If the agreement with the IAEA went ahead, the deal still needs the approval of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which would have to change its rules in order to accommodate resumption of civil nuclear cooperation with India.

India, a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), tested nuclear weapons in 1974 and 1998, and was subsequently banned from buying nuclear fuel and technology on the international market.

The controversial Indo-US deal allows the country to retain its military programme, while still being able to import civilian nuclear technology and fuel. Critics blasted the deal as undermining the NPT and giving a bad example to other countries pursuing nuclear weapons.

The bilateral India-US deal, concluded by presidents Manmohan Singh and George W. Bush in 2005 met with strong resistance on part of the India's Left, which vowed to withdraw its support to the government should the deal go ahead.