Safeguards agreement still in negotiation stage: Kakodkar

Arunkumar Bhatt

MUMBAI: The draft India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not being made public as it is still at the negotiation stage. “Work is in progress,” asserted Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman, Anil Kakodkar.

Dr. Kakodkar was answering questions at a panel discussion, ‘Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal: Advantage India,’ organised by the Indian Merchants’ Chamber here on Wednesday. He said that India had negotiated the deal from a position of strength and it did not prevent India from pursuing nuclear technology for strategic and civilian objectives, did not put a cap on the country’s three-stage nuclear power programme and did not bring in safeguards that the country was not used to.

The AEC Chairman said the failure to finalise the deal would result in a tremendous gap though its conclusion and operationalisation did not mean meeting the entire energy needs of the country because of the tremendous need for electricity aimed at ensuring a better quality of life for every Indian.

His predecessor, Dr. H.N. Sethna, known for his anti-deal position, said the U.S. should be told that India would follow only the IAEA safeguards and nothing else. He said he would not trust any country in such matters and one did not know what would be the condition of the U.S. 50 years from now.

Shrikant Paranjpe, Head, Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, University of Pune, said the deal was the result of the need to grant India space and opened a number of doors that were hitherto closed. It also underscored both the countries’ bilateral utility to each other in the post 9/11 scenario.

Prof. Paranjpe said that like several other bilateral treaties, including the Indo-Soviet Defence Agreement, the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal was “not properly marketed” to bring about its other important points. He said “all political parties fell for ideological and party interests and have not talked from the point of national interests.”

The former Ambassador, Rajendra Abhyankar, said the problem with the deal was perhaps that it was with the U.S and not any other country and was not a touchstone of the entire gamut of Indo-U.S. relations. He said it was the result of tremendous success of the Indian Diaspora in the U.S. and the growth of the Indian economy.

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