Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said here on Wednesday that there was “nothing peculiar or significant about an India-specific safeguards agreement.” The implication was that such an agreement would not be complicated, nor would it take much time.
Coming out of a meeting with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in South Block, ElBaradei said, “It is a standard procedure.” India has already signed four safeguards agreements with the IAEA in the past, another set would not be difficult to negotiate, he added.
<b1>ElBaradei said he favoured the nuclear deal between India and the US, but would wait for India to go to the IAEA when the “domestic political dialogue” is over.
During their hour-long meeting, Mukherjee explained to the atomic watchdog chief the details of the 123 Agreement with the US, but there was no discussion on how soon India would approach the IAEA with a draft safeguards agreement.
“When they (government of India) are ready, we will be happy to negotiate with them.. There is a domestic political dialogue on. It is an issue for the government of India to decide,” he said.
For India, which has been under nuclear sanctions since 1974, “it (the civil nuclear deal) is a major step in regularizing with international nuclear trade,” ElBaradei said.
ElBaradei who is being hosted for dinner tonight by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, said he wanted to see India emerge from the restrictions imposed by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group on nuclear commerce.
"I want India to become a full partner in the nuclear field," he said. India, which "has a well developed indigenous nuclear sector," could become "both a supplier and a recipient of nuclear technologies."
Noting that there was a renaissance of nuclear power throughout the world, because it was clean and other resources are fast depleting, ElBaradei said, "As a friend of India, I would like to see India making full use of nuclear energy to enable it to sustain its 10 per cent growth rate."
Earlier on Wednesday, visiting Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Massimo D'Alema said, "We have strong faith in IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei and we hope India will be able to negotiate with him the safeguards rule."