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‘No instructions from Centre for IAEA meet’

MUMBAI: With less than a week to go for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general conference in Vienna, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar is keeping his options open on discussing safeguards with the nuclear watchdog as he is yet to receive clear-cut instructions on the issue from the Centre.

“I have not received any indication on the topic [from the Centre] till date,” Dr. Kakodkar told PTI here. He is scheduled to make his speech at the annual meeting on September 19, two days after the conference begins. He admitted last fortnight that there were some “constraints” related to talks on India-specific safeguards but refused to elaborate.

Informal discussions

Sources close to Dr. Kakodkar, however, said the India-U.S. nuclear deal might come up for informal discussions at the conference.

Though the Centre is seeking support for the deal from various quarters in spite of the Left’s reservations on it, Dr. Kakodkar has not got any information on going ahead with discussions at the IAEA on safeguards pertaining to the deal.

The Left parties have made it clear that they would take into consideration the findings of the UPA-Left committee on the nuclear deal before proceeding on the issue of operationalising the agreement.

Scientists in favour of the deal are hoping that the Centre may come up with directions just before the IAEA conference to allow Dr. Kakodkar to go ahead with talks on the safeguards.

Deal being watched

Nuclear industrialists in the country and around the globe are closely watching the deal, a top official of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India said.

“We and our counterparts across the world, who are waiting for India’s integration with the global nuclear renaissance, are closely watching the political mood in India,” he said.

Asked whether India would participate in IAEA’s two-day scientific forum, which has a session on nuclear energy for developing countries, he said it was part of the nuclear power community’s agenda.

The scientific forum will be attended by Bhabha Atomic Research Centre Director S. Banerjee.

The IAEA general conference will also be attended by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Chairman S.K. Sharma who is also a member of the International Nuclear Safety Group. — PTI

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