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USA government to monitor Indian nuclear facilities through IAEA

NEW DELHI,Iftikhar Gilani(DNA):Indian officials maintain that the data sharing agreement was the same as extended to other countries, but those involved in the three rounds of negotiations in Delhi, Vienna and London to hammer out the deal before Obama’s visit differ.

Even nine days after the US president Barack Obama and prime minister Narendra Modi ironed out difference to pave way for the operationalisation of the stalled nuclear agreement, the details of understanding on the issue are still sketchy.

The details trickling out from various sources suggest that while the establishment of an insurance pool to cover nuclear operator and suppliers liability in case of damages is still being vetted by legal brains, on the other key issue of the Americans tracking nuclear material, it was agreed that they (US Administration) will accept the data supplied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

But, now it turns out that the United States has not lowered its requirement of monitoring the use of nuclear material supplied to India. They will not do it directly, but through the IAEA monitoring team, which will have two US members, while inspecting the reactors.

Further, India will share the data during the annual consultation by a India-US contact group that helped in achieving a “breakthrough” in the civilian nuclear deal during Obama’s visit.

Officials here said the agreement broadly included the establishment of an insurance pool that will cover nuclear operators and suppliers for up to Rs 1,500 crore in damages; a non-binding legal memorandum asserting that Indian liability law is consistent with international norms; and a new system of reporting on the status of nuclear fuel and other materials supplied by the United States.

Ministry of external affairs’ spokesman Syed Akbaruding on Thursday stressed that understanding has been achieved within the four corners of Indian law and international best practices. “Please don’t jump to conclusions. There are matters that need to be legally checked. Nothing will make you to question, whether our laws are fully complied,” he said.

Indian officials maintain that the data sharing agreement was the same as extended to other countries, but those involved in the three rounds of negotiations in Delhi, Vienna and London to hammer out the deal before Obama’s visit differ.

The Congress leaders, who had handled the civilian nuclear deal with the US during Manmohan Singh’s tenure, say India was always open to providing data to inspectors of IAEA while extending it to the American authorities amounts to the US monitoring the use of the nuclear material received from the American suppliers.

They also point out that Obama has not issued any “executive waiver” to bypass the requirement to monitor the use of nuclear material in India as required under the Hyde Act of 2006.

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