Officials of the two countries began the three-day talks on the peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement or the “123 agreement” on the basis of drafts exchanged between Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns in London last month.
While the civil nuclear cooperation agreement, concluded in March this year, provides enough base for the bilateral pact, certain differences persist between the two sides.
In the agreement, the US had wanted a clause that nuclear cooperation would be snapped if India were to conduct a nuclear test. New Delhi maintained that it had already declared a moratorium on atomic tests and thus, there was no need for such a clause. India noted that the US law anyway had a clause providing for calling off cooperation with any country that conducts atomic tests.
The two sides were now working to find a middle path, the sources said. On its part, New Delhi was willing to incorporate in the bilateral agreement its assertion on a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, reiterating what has been mentioned in the July 18, 2005 joint statement. Efforts were being made to see how this can be reflected in the bilateral agreement, the sources said.
Emphasising on continued supply of nuclear fuel, India wants assurances by the US in this regard to be included in the agreement.
In the agreement, New Delhi wants Washington to commit to ensure uninterrupted supply of atomic fuel and in case it were unable to do so for whatever reasons, it made sure that other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) did so.