India proposes dedicated facility for spent N- fuel

  • Arvind Padmanabhan, IANS, Heiligendamm
  • |
  • Updated: Jun 08, 2007 23:47 IST

India has made a new proposal for a dedicated facility to safeguard spent nuclear fuel, seeking to give a new push to its talks with the US on the 123 pact to resume civil nuclear commerce, officials said on Friday.

Under the proposal, a new facility will exclusively safeguard reprocessed atomic fuel, which is one of the key areas holding up the 123 pact, named after Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act to allow peaceful nuclear commerce.

At the political level, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had an informal meeting with US President George W Bush on the margins of the G8 Outreach Summit in Heiligendamm on Friday.

At a parallel level, National Security Advisor MK Narayanan met with his US counterpart Stephen Hadley at the same venue, as New Delhi and Washington tried to remove the irritants holding up the path-breaking agreement.

The meetings came after a fresh round of talks in New Delhi early June between Nicholas Burns, Washington's chief negotiator on the deal, and the Indian side led by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon ended with little progress.

Bush had also spoken to Manmohan Singh over phone in May.

India is demanding the right to be given prior approval for reprocessing the US-origin spent fuel to run its fast-breeder programme, which Washington is not yet ready to accede to, saying the issue will arise at a much later date.

New Delhi is hoping the new proposal on safeguards is able to break the impasse.

Officials said India also wants to preserve its strategic autonomy and is unwilling to go beyond a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing, while the US wants to terminate the agreement should India conduct a nuclear test.


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