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N-deal: We will get back, India tells IAEA

Kakodkar and ElBaradei steer clear of any contentious issue, report Amit Baruah and Sutirtho Patranobis.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2007 03:09 IST
Amit Baruah and Sutirtho Patranobis
Amit Baruah and Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar told International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei that India “will get back” to the UN atomic watchdog on the India-specific safeguards agreement.

Keeping in mind the political standoff over the nuclear deal back in India, Kakodkar, at a bilateral meeting in Vienna on Wednesday, told ElBaradei: “You know what is going on in India. We will get back to you.”

During their 20-minute meeting, diplomatic sources told HT, Kakodkar and ElBaradei discussed other aspects of the civil nuclear cooperation between India and the IAEA. They, however, steered clear of raising any issue that might make see the Left see red in New Delhi.

The Left, however, continued to see red. On Wednesday, hours before the second meeting of the UPA-Left committee — set up to sort out differences over the deal — the Communists rejected the ruling combine’s claim that the Hyde Act’s impact on the bilateral pact will be neutralised once the US Congress ratified the deal.

The Left parties rebutted the Congress-led combine’s reading of the Hyde Act in a 12-page note and later, at the meeting, refused to be persuaded by the UPA interlocutors led by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The committee will meet again on October 5 to try and break the logjam. “The discussions were constructive and will continue at the next meeting of the committee,” said Mukherjee after the meeting.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Richard Boucher was quoted by PTI as saying: “We also know we have political timetables and it is better to move this as soon as possible.” Describing the 123 accord as “fundamentally good”, Boucher added that it was an agreement that was “carefully negotiated to meet all the requirements of US laws”.

Back in Delhi, Congress sources later said the Left parties failed to specify the part of the Hyde Act which they think can impact the agreement. "Even at today's meeting, they failed to point it out. We told them as a third party, India is not concerned about what transpires between the US President and the US Congress," a Congress leader said.

In Vienna, addressing the 51st general conference of the IAEA, Kakodkar stated that India looked forward to the possibility of opening up of international civil nuclear cooperation. "We expect such cooperation to be sustainable, free from interruptions and consistent with our national policy of closed fuel cycle," the AEC chairman said. If the international civil nuclear sector were to open up to the country, India could look at the export of reactors and services, he added.

"India today is the only country to have a live technology, design and infrastructure for small PHWRs (pressurized heavy water reactors) with a unit capacity of 220 MWe, which have a great potential for export, particularly to countries with small grids wishing to enter nuclear power generation…"

"Given the large manufacturing base and relatively low manufacturing costs, there is also a potential for India becoming a manufacturing hub for equipment and components for the global nuclear industry," a text of his speech added.

In Washington, speaking at a meeting ogranised by the United States India Business Alliance, Boucher also asked India to "explain exactly what is and what is not going on in its relations with Iran, as we are upfront in our relations with other countries, with India,"

"I'm sure India can explain it better than we can what their relationships are and are not..." he was quoted as saying in Washington by PTI.

First Published: Sep 20, 2007 02:46 IST