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Draft Safeguards Agreement with IAEA made public

Sandeep Dikshit

“It will help India gain uninterrupted access to global nuclear fuel market”

It recognises India’s right to take corrective measures if foreign supplies are disrupted

The draft put on MEA website does not contain the list of facilities being offered for safeguards

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday made public the draft Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that has been forwarded to its Board of Governors for consideration. The Board is scheduled to meet on July 28 on an unrelated matter and could take up India’s draft for approval.

25-page document

The 25-page document is divided into 11 sections, besides a preamble, which notes that the Safeguards Agreement is an “essential basis” for India to gain “uninterrupted” access to the international nuclear fuel market, including uninterrupted access, and support its effort to develop a strategic fuel reserve to guard against any disruption of supply.

The preamble recognises India’s right to take corrective measures to ensure uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors if foreign supplies are disrupted. It takes note of the India-U.S. joint statement of July 18 in which New Delhi expressed its willingness to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities in a phased manner.

The key operational sections of the draft revolve around the circumstances under which safeguards will be required.

Apart from imported nuclear facilities and fuel, other civilian facilities will only be safeguarded once India determines that “all conditions conducive to the accomplishment of the objective of this Agreement are in place.”

This, say officials, is a reference to the conclusion of fuel supply agreements for reactors as a prior condition to their being safeguarded.

In line with all IAEA safeguards agreements, India will not be allowed to use safeguarded items for manufacturing nuclear explosive devices. But the text says safeguards would be implemented in a manner so as not to obstruct Indian efforts to use technology, equipment and nuclear material acquired or developed by India independent of the agreement “for its own purposes.”

The agreement will come into force only after India notifies the IAEA that all its statutory and constitutional requirements for entry into force have been met.

Technical obligations

Apart from the India-specific provisions relating primarily to the preambular declarations and the circumstances requiring safeguards, the draft text draws heavily upon the IAEA’s standard INFCIRC/66 type agreement for site-specific safeguards when it comes to the detailing of India’s technical obligations.

The draft, put up on the Ministry of External Affairs website on Thursday morning, does not contain a list of the facilities being offered for safeguards.

Under the procedure specified in the agreement, only facilities listed in the Annex will be safeguarded, pursuant to India filing a Declaration and a subsequent Notification, presumably once it is satisfied that it has tied up adequate fuel for its reactors.

India will be subject to routine and special inspections of its safeguarded facilities and the IAEA Secretariat estimates the Agency will need an additional budgetary allocation of 1.2 million euros in the first year of applying safeguards to a new facility.

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