India to sign agreement with IAEA on Monday

Written by AFP | Vienna | Updated: Feb 1 2009, 04:53am hrs
India will next week sign an inspections agreement with the UN atomic watchdog as part of a deal lifting a 34-year-old embargo on nuclear trade with New Delhi, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

"The signing will take place on Monday at 2:30pm (1330 GMT)," said one source close to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The so-called safeguards agreement is a pre-condition for a US-led deal to allow nuclear nations to supply energy-hungry India with nuclear material and technology for civilian uses even though it refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Nevertheless, the safeguards agreement with IAEA can only come into force once it has been ratified by New Delhi, the sources said.

In September, the nuclear suppliers group, which controls the export and sale of nuclear technology, agreed to make a special exemption for India.

As one of the conditions for that waiver, New Delhi must open up 14 of its 22 declared civilian reactors to regular IAEA inspections by 2014.

The United States wanted a special waiver so it can share civilian nuclear technology with New Delhi.

Energy-hungry India, dependent on oil imports, is seeking to broaden its fuel sources to sustain its fast-growing economy. Nuclear power supplies around 3% of Indias fuel needs but it aims to hike this to 25% by mid-century.