The Indian civil nuclear programme as well as the country’s tightening of laws to check nuclear proliferation came in for praise from Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano.
Speaking to journalists here after touring Tarapur Atomic Power Station’s units 3 & 4, Dr. Amano lauded the “serious efforts, enthusiasm by the operators, engineers to further improve, further enhance the level of safety.”
During his tour of the nuclear power sites, he noted the changes made after the Fukushima incident such as the addition of mobile generators and an outside hook up to cool down the power plant in case of blackout.
“These are some of the examples of improvements, enhancement of safety at the site of Tarapur,” Dr. Amano said.
On his second visit to India in three years but the first after the Fukushima accident, Dr. Amano said the implementation of the India Specific Safeguard Agreement was being implemented “very smoothly.”
Ratification after talks
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai threw more light on the issue. After the conclusion of the India-Specific Safeguards Agreement in 2008, 12 nuclear power plant units and seven other facilities were offered for safeguards.
“We are at an advanced stage of consultations with the Agency relating to our Additional Protocol and India will ratify once these discussions are concluded,” he declared.
Mr. Mathai also said the national SCOMET (Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment, and Technologies) list had been updated to be on par with the current Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) lists. “In some respects, our controls are more stringent than those practiced by the NSG and MTCR,’’ he said.
‘Nuclear power still important’
Dr. Amano underlined the continued importance of nuclear power despite the Fukushima accident.
“There is a misunderstanding that the Fukushima accident should mean the end of nuclear power or should mean the decline of the use of nuclear power,” he said while pointing out that on the contrary, electricity generation from this sector was poised to double in the coming years.
Asked whether the IAEA was seeking any changes in India’s nuclear liability norm, Dr. Amano left the ball in India’s court. “India has signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) and also has a domestic law. For us, we would like to promote the entry into the force of the CSC but for that it is not only India but other countries need to ratify. I leave it for India to address the domestic law to implement the CSC,” he stated.
Dr. Amano sidestepped a query on whether technology that enabled North Korea to conduct a nuclear test recently had come from Pakistan.