New Delhi: Signalling the continuity of policy, the new government has ratified the Additional Protocol, a commitment given under India-U.S. nuclear deal by the previous dispensation to grant greater ease to International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor India’s civilian atomic programme.
The Additional Protocol was ratified last week and this has been conveyed to the Vienna-based IAEA, the global watchdog of nuclear activities, sources told PTI in New Delhi.
The IAEA had in March 2009 approved an additional protocol to India’s safeguards agreement consequent to a pact reached with the agency the previous year to place its civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.
That agreement had paved the way for the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group to grant India-specific waiver for it to have commercial relations with other countries in the civilian atomic field.
The waiver was necessary as India, despite being a nuclear-armed state, is not a signatory to the NPT.
The ratification is a signal by the Narendra Modi government to the world, particularly the U.S., that it is serious in continuing to implement the India-U.S. nuclear deal.
This assumes significance since Mr. Modi is scheduled to travel to Washington to meet President Barack Obama in September.
The sources pointed out that India wants to send a strong signal to the international community that it is a “serious and responsible” nuclear weapons state amid its keenness to become a member of the NSG.
President Pranab Mukherjee, in his address to Parliament earlier this month, had said, “The international civil nuclear agreements will be operationalised and nuclear power projects for civilian purposes will be developed.”
As External Affairs Minister in September 2008, Mr. Mukherjee had given a commitment to the NSG on behalf of the government on peaceful uses of nuclear energy that was significant in ensuring the waiver.
In its communication to the IAEA in July 2008, India had told the agency under the joint statement on “Implementation of the India-United States” in July 2005, it will file a declaration regarding its civilian facilities with the IAEA and also place its civilian facilities under IAEA safeguards.
“India will undertake signing and adhering to an Additional Protocol with respect to civilian nuclear facilities,” it had told the IAEA.
The Additional Protocol, signed between India and the IAEA on March 15, 2009, involves a high degree of scrutiny of nuclear facilities, including its reactors and fuel cycle sites by the inspectors of the atomic energy body. India has already listed 20 of its sites as agreed between the two.
These includes six facilities in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle in Hyderabad, unit 1 and 2 and two more facilities in Tarapur in Maharashtra , units 1-6 of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, units 1 and 2 of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station.
The move will help in facilitating multiple entries for the IAEA inspectors for conducting necessary inspections. Even the data transmitting that happens can be done with remote transmitting. Information about the nuclear exports would also be given to the IAEA so that cross verification could be done in an easier way.