India does not anticipate any problems in getting approval for its safeguards' agreement from the IAEA's board of governors, Shyam Saran, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy, said on Thursday.
He told the HT that India had been encouraged by the fact that the IAEA board was to meet as early as August 1. Saran stated that once the safeguards agreement went through the IAEA, then the stage would be set for a meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group.
"The sooner this meeting is held, the better it would be, because we understand that the NSG itself will not be able to take an instant decision. Members of the NSG would probably have to consult their governments…"
Germany, which currently chairs the NSG, has given India to understand that it would convene a meeting of the group at an early date.
Saran said that if the NSG, which India hoped would meet in early August, gave the green signal to exempt India from existing restrictions on civil nuclear trade, then the issue would go to Washington.
In Washington, President Bush would have to determine that all obligations — on the US and India had been fulfilled. Together with this determination the 123 agreement would then be sent to the US Congress.
"In the US Congress, if normal procedures are followed (which require 90 days), then it is very difficult to foresee how this (the 123 accord) can be approved during the lifetime of the current Congress,” Saran said.
“But, if there is political will and…bipartisan support from the US Congress…then there is a chance that this (agreement) may be able to obtain approval from the US Congress as well," he stated.
He said: "There are many ifs and buts... We cannot take it for granted that this will be a smooth run. We will have to draw upon the goodwill, which India obviously enjoys…and, we hope, we will be able to see it through."