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BJP’s ‘questions’ on IAEA draft

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday posed “some questions” related to the draft agreement India proposes to sign with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), starting with its criticism that the agency does not recognise India as a nuclear weapon state.

“No special status is being given to India as a nuclear weapon state,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said. He claimed that the proposed agreement was “in the same format as [were] agreements the agency has signed [in the past] with non-nuclear weapon states.”

Ignoring the specific reference on page 2 of the draft agreement to India’s right “to identify and separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities” and its sole discretion to decide which of its facilities it wants to place under safeguards, Mr. Prasad said the proposed agreement would “cap India’s military nuclear programme.”

The draft agreement, however, makes it clear that the IAEA would implement safeguards in a manner as “not to hinder or otherwise interfere with any activities involving the use by India of nuclear material, non-nuclear material, equipment, components, information or technology produced, acquired or developed by India independent of this Agreement for its own purposes.”

And, in a joint statement by BJP leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie on August 4 last, they admitted that at least 10 per cent, if not more, nuclear reactors would remain outside the safeguards agreement. In short, India would be free to use these reactors for furthering its nuclear military programme.

Apprehensions

Mr. Prasad expressed the BJP’s apprehensions on the question of fuel supplies to India’s nuclear reactors although the draft agreement clearly states that “an essential basis for India’s concurrence to accept Agency [IAEA] safeguards” is “international cooperation” in creating conditions that would allow India “to obtain access to the international [nuclear] fuel market, including reliable, uninterrupted and continuous access to fuel supplies from companies in several nations” to support India’s effort to develop “a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel …”

The party felt this would not ensure continuous supply.

Mr. Prasad wanted to know what “corrective measures” India could take if promises of fuel supply for the lifetime of a reactor were violated. The “corrective measures” had not been spelt out in the draft agreement, he said.

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