Jan 30, 2009

India - India to sign IAEA deal on Monday - ambassador

India is set to sign an inspection agreement with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog on Monday, India's ambassador to the agency said.

The inspection deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is a precondition of a United States-led agreement allowing nuclear nations to supply India with nuclear material and technology for its domestic power sector.

"We have set some time aside for this on Monday," Saurabh Kumar, India's ambassador to the Vienna-based IAEA said on Thursday, referring to the signing of the pact.

He declined to give further details of the agreement, which must be ratified by Delhi before it can come into effect.

The draft agreement in July said India would be required to make its declared civilian reactors -- 14 out of 22 -- subject to regular IAEA non-proliferation inspections. The agency hopes to have the reactors under inspection by 2014.

In August, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei hailed the draft as a positive step after it was approved by the agency's board of governors.

"I believe the agreement is good for India, is good for the world, is good for non-proliferation, is good for our collective effort to move towards a world free from nuclear weapons," he said.

The 45 nations which make up the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) agreed in September to lift a three-decade global ban on nuclear trade with India, paving the way for the fuel and technology deal. The ban had been in place since 1974, when India carried out its first nuclear test explosion.

Washington said in September the deal would forge a strategic partnership with the world's largest democracy, help India meet rising energy demand and open up a nuclear market worth billions of dollars.

The Bush administration pushed hard to get required approvals for the controversial pact from the NSG, IAEA and the U.S. Congress, which gave the deal the thumbs up in October.

Some nations criticised the deal because India has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty which is meant to stop the spread and production of nuclear weapons and mandate gradual disarmament, and a companion test ban pact.

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