US certifies India-IAEA Safeguards Agreement on civil n-facilities

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : In yet another step towards full implementation of the India-US civil nuclear deal, President Barack Obama has certified that India has placed its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

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Obama made the Congressionally-mandated certification Wednesday in a presidential memorandum to the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her to have it inserted in the Federal Register that records all government actions.

Obama’s confirmation that India has formally agreed to provide the UN nuclear watchdog access to a specified number of nuclear reactors takes the deal yet another step closer to implementation of the landmark deal. Military facilities are excluded from the safeguards agreement.

But a couple of other crucial steps are still pending. India and the US are still negotiating an agreement on reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. The two sides are said to be on track to complete the talks by August as provided under the deal.

India also needs to approve liability protection for US companies. The Indian cabinet has approved the necessary legislation, but it has yet to be placed before parliament.

In a presidential memorandum released by the White House, Obama wrote: “I hereby determine and certify that:

1. The agreement between the government of India and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the application of safeguards to civilian nuclear facilities, as approved by the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency on August 1, 2008 (the ‘Safeguards Agreement’), has entered into force; and

2. The government of India has filed a declaration of facilities pursuant to paragraph 13 of the Safeguards Agreement that is not materially inconsistent with the facilities and schedule described in paragraph 14 of the Separation Plan present in the national Parliament of India on May 11, 2006, taking into account the later initiation of safeguards that was anticipated in the Separation Plan.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])