India is currently on the Board of Governors of IAEA and has developed goodwill among the member states over decades, ET has reliably gathered.
The matter was discussed for months this year. Yet India’s approach towards China was not that of acrimony and non-confrontational and rather deft diplomacy was pursued to achieve the goal, it has been learnt.
France was also on board and is currently on the Board of Governors. France and Australia are repairing their ties which had hit a low over AUKUS and recently revived India-Australia-France trilateral.
The General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was held in Vienna from September 26-30 where China tried to get a resolution passed against the AUKUS for seeking to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines (but armed with conventional weapons). Since last year, the AUKUS initiative has been a stand-alone item on the agenda of the quarterly meetings of IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors. IAEA has 175 member states
China argued that this initiative was in violation of their responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It also criticized the role of IAEA in this regard, sources said.
India took an objective view of the initiative, recognising the soundness of the technical evaluation by IAEA. The Indian Mission to the IAEA in Vienna worked closely with many IAEA member states in this regard, sources added. Some of these member states are close partners of China. ET has learnt that Pakistan’s stand was curious as it did not back China wholeheartedly.
India’s considered role helped many smaller countries take a clear stand on the Chinese proposal. Realizing that its resolution would not get majority support, China withdrew its draft resolution on September 30, ET has learnt.
Interestingly, the Chinese were confident enough of success even on September 28. India’s deft and impactful diplomacy was deeply appreciated by IAEA member states, particularly the AUKUS partners.
In September 2021, the US, the UK and Australia announced the formation of the AUKUS to allow Canberra to acquire at least eight nuclear powered submarines.
The IAEA had issued a report that it was “satisfied” with the cooperation from the US, Australia and the UK in monitoring the nuclear material. China had claimed that the IAEA director general “cannot be reduced to a political tool of the three countries and be used to make misleading conclusions”.
The 35 Board Members for 2021-2022 are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America and Vietnam.