31 July 2008

Dateline Vienna: Pakistan will not press for vote on Indian deal at IAEA

Nuclear Suppliers Group now looking to meet during August 21-23 in Vienna

31 July 2008
The Hindu

Pakistan will not press for vote on Indian deal at IAEA


Siddharth Varadarajan

Nuclear Suppliers Group now looking to meet during August 21-23 in Vienna

Vienna: After firing a written salvo against the draft Indian safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Pakistan has backed off and is all set to join the consensus in favour of approving the text when the nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors meets on August 1.

According to IAEA sources, Pakistan has assured the United States that it will not seek to block approval of the Indian safeguards agreement or call for amendments. Provided Islamabad sticks to its assurances, the August 1 meeting is likely to be a tame affair, though a number of countries are expected to make statements putting on record any misgivings they might have about the deal.

With the smooth approval of the agreement now being taken for granted, vigorous planning is already under way for the nuclear deal’s next step — the grant of a waiver to India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The dates now being discussed are August 21-23, with the meeting likely to take place in Vienna itself. And on Wednesday, Department of Atomic Energy chairman Anil Kakodkar met IAEA Director-General Mohammed el-Baradei for the first round of discussions on an additional protocol to the Indian safeguards agreement.

On July 18, Ambassador Shahbaz wrote a four-page letter to all members of the IAEA BoG as well as the NSG criticising the Indian agreement on a number of grounds and calling on other countries to join Pakistan in seeking amendments when the matter was brought before the Board. By July 23, however, Islamabad’s tone changed as its Ambassador made it clear that his delegation did not intend to “impede” the process.

During the IAEA Secretariat’s July 25 briefing on the Indian safeguards agreement, say diplomats, the change in the Pakistani attitude was most visible. Though its Ambassador referred to the letter he had sent, the only question he raised was about Pakistan being able to avail itself of the precedent being set for India. The Secretariat’s representative at the briefing, Vilmos Cserveny, who had in fact been the IAEA’s lead negotiator with India, replied that if Pakistan were to negotiate bilateral or multilateral agreements of the kind India had, a similar umbrella safeguards agreement could be drawn up and its approval would then be up to the BoG.

Though Pakistan has indicated where it will stand on August 1, China has yet to reveal its hand, the IAEA sources say. Officially, its Ambassador says he is still awaiting instructions from Beijing but the sense at the Vienna International Centre — which houses the IAEA and other U.N. agencies here — is that China will also be part of the consensus in favour of the Indian agreement.

In a statement on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador Schulte said his government was looking forward to “the Board approving the India safeguards agreement on Friday.”

He said the BoG members have had ample time to study the agreement and ask questions of India and the Secretariat. Describing the agreement as one which would “allow India to place 14 reactors under international safeguards in the next six years, plus all future civil reactors,” Ambassador Schulte said the safeguarding of these facilities would be “a net gain for the world’s non-proliferation regime.”

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Was there any protest from Mexico?. You mentioned in your report that Pakistan and Mexico showed their interest to speak (http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/holnus/000200808011552.htm)

Vittal

Siddharth said...

For some reason my blog has been been blocked and I'm not able to post updates. Please see the Hindu for my coverage of the Aug 1 board meeting. Mexico and Pakistan both spoke, as did more than 30 countries.