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Page last updated at 04:34 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 05:34 UK

IAEA sets date for India proposal

India's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, located 30km from Mumbai (Bombay)
India would get access to US civilian nuclear technology

The world nuclear regulatory body will meet on 1 August to consider India's plan for safeguarding its civilian nuclear facilities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) approval of the plan is a key condition for putting into effect a nuclear deal between India and US.

Left-wing parties in India have pulled out of the governing coalition in protest against the deal.

The government says it is needed to meet soaring energy demands.

India is under pressure from Washington to sign the accord before the US presidential elections in November.

India has to sign a "safeguards agreement" with the IAEA before it can go ahead with the deal.

The agreement will open up India's key civilian nuclear reactors to UN inspections.

If the IAEA signs the agreement, the deal will go to the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which regulates global civilian nuclear trade, for approval.

"A [special] meeting of the [35-nation] IAEA board of governors will take place on 1 August with the India Safeguards agreement on the agenda," Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the Vienna-based IAEA said.

Controversial

She said India would brief the IAEA's board of governors on this Friday.

A restricted draft of India's plans for safeguarding nuclear facilities has been given to IAEA's 35 member nations ahead of the meeting.

Some critics who have seen the draft have said several points in it appear to restrict international monitoring of India's atomic programme.

The US had restricted nuclear co-operation with India - which has not signed the 1972 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - since it first tested a nuclear weapon in 1974.

Under the terms of the nuclear accord, India would get access to US civilian nuclear technology and fuel.

NUCLEAR POWER IN INDIA
India has 14 reactors in commercial operation and nine under construction
Nuclear power supplies about 3% of India's electricity
By 2050, nuclear power is expected to provide 25% of the country's electricity
India has limited coal and uranium reserves
Its huge thorium reserves - about 25% of the world's total - are expected to fuel its nuclear power programme long-term
Source: Uranium Information Center

In return, Delhi would open its civilian nuclear facilities to inspection - but its nuclear weapons sites would remain off-limits.

Critics of the deal fear assistance to India's civil programme could free-up additional radioactive material for bomb-making purposes.

Meanwhile, left-wing parties in India have launched a national campaign against the nuclear deal.

The governing coalition, which has now been reduced to a minority after their communist allies withdrew support, will seek a vote of confidence on 22 July.

If the government loses the vote, India faces early elections and the nuclear deal would probably be scuttled.




SEE ALSO
India left gives nuclear deadline
04 Jul 08 |  South Asia
US warning on India nuclear deal
05 Mar 08 |  South Asia

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