IAEA chief to visit India next week
India will hold informal talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohammed ElBaradei on a safeguards agreement to operationalise the Indo-US nuclear deal during his visit in New Delhi next week.
During his three-day stay, the IAEA chief will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visit the Tarapur Atomic plant. But first he will hold talks with the officials of the department of atomic energy, (DAE) after he arrives in Delhi.
The IAEA chief's visit comes in the backdrop of the ruling United Progressive Alliance's main Left ally, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, on Monday demanding that the government should postpone any decision on the contentious nuclear deal till Parliament convenes for the winter session.
Earlier in September, DAE secretary Anil Kakodkar had met the IAEA director general in Vienna on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the UN's nuclear agency.
At that time, the Left and opposition parties had insisted that Kakodkar should not start negotiations on the safeguards agreement. This had led to the government keeping a lid on the content of the talks, with the DAE chief informing the IAEA that it would "get back" on the safeguards agreement.
The completion of an India-specific safeguards agreement is crucial, as several countries in the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group have demanded a look at its contents before approving a waiver for international nuclear trade with India, which has not signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.
The IAEA chief had last come to India two years ago. His visit now comes right in the midst of the political heat generated over the deal, with the Left parties and Bharatiya Janata Party claiming that it would subvert India's nuclear sovereignty.
While the Left alleges that the deal would lead to India allying its foreign policy with the United States, the BJP avows that it will lead to India not being able to take an independent decision on future nuclear tests.