Endorsing the India-specific safeguards agreement, the IAEA chief on Friday said it conformed to "all the legal requirements" of his agency and that talks had begun on a system of extended inspections, indicating that its approval was imminent.
"These are not comprehensive or full-scope safeguards(unlike with NPT member states)... But it (agreement) satisfies India's needs while maintaining all the Agency's legal requirements," said Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
ElBaradei's remarks giving a boost to the prospects for the Indo-US nuclear deal which will move forward once the safeguards pact is approved came at the meeting of the 35-member Board of Governors which is widely expected to give its green signal. Sources said the agreement, which is a key step for operationalising the landmark nuke deal, will have a smooth passage.
Tabling the draft agreement at the start of the meeting of the Board of Governors, ElBaradei said the agreement's "umbrella" nature provides a more efficient mechanism for ensuring that safeguards requirements can be met.
Touching upon an area of concern, he said India and the IAEA have already begun discussions on an Additional Protocol, which will be specific to the country--a system of short notice, wider-ranging inspections.
In another ringing endorsement of the safeguards pact, the European Union said it will "reinforce" the non-proliferation regime and wanted speedy finalisation of the Additional Protocol.
" The agreement will reinforce the non-proliferation regime for which the European Union is committed," the 27-member grouping said in a statement.
According to India's Plan, which has been circulated for the information of all IAEA member States, a total of 14 reactors are envisaged to come under Agency safeguards by 2014, ElBaradei said adding that six of them were already under IAEA supervision.
IAEA expected to start implementing the agreement at new facilities in 2009. Facilities will be notified by India to the Agency in stages and the Secretariat will inform the IAEA members when facilities are submitted for safeguards, he said.
As with other safeguards agreements between the Agency and Member States, the agreement is of indefinite duration, El Baradei said.
ElBaradei said there are no conditions for the discontinuation of safeguards other than those provided by the safeguards agreement itself.
The termination provisions contained in the agreement are the same as for other 66-type agreements. "Naturally, as with all safeguards agreements---this agreement is subject to the general rules of international law," he said.
The draft also envisages the possibility of applying current Agency safeguards in India under this new agreement by suspending, subject to agreement by the relevant parties, the application of safeguards under existing agreements.
The Agency already applies safeguards to six of these 14 reactors under existing 66 type agreements with India.
The termination provisions contained in the agreement are the same as for other 66-type agreements.
Naturally - as with all safeguards agreements - this agreement is subject to the general rules of international law, El Baradei said.