NEW DELHI - India and the UN atomic agency have moved forward on implementing an agreement on subjecting the country's civilian nuclear sites to international controls for the first time, officials said Thursday. The draft safeguards agreement is one of several conditions India must fulfill before it can enter a controversial pact on atomic technology sharing with the United States. It involves India separating its civil and military programmes, and is subject to approval by the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) international board. Nuclear-armed India refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - the cornerstone of international nuclear controls - because it says it would endanger its strategic defence programme. The draft agreement is essentially a way of placing India under some IAEA controls and enabling it to shop for nuclear technology on the international market. "At the request of the government of India, the IAEA secretariat circulated to members of the IAEA board of governors for their consideration the draft of an agreement with the government of India for the application of safeguards to civilian nuclear facilities," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said. "The chairman of the board is consulting with board members to agree on a date for a board meeting when the agreement would be considered," she said in a statement posted on the UN body's website. Meanwhile, a top US envoy welcomed Thursday India's decision to seek IAEA approval of its controversial nuclear cooperation deal with the United States, saying the US-Indian accord would ultimately strengthen global non-proliferation efforts. "We welcome India's willingness to move forward with this historic initiative," said the US ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Gregory Schulte. Schulte was speaking to journalists in a telephone conference call a day after India submitted a draft accord to the IAEA's board of governors that will allow UN inspectors access to India's declared civilian nuclear reactors on a regular basis. In addition to securing IAEA approval, India must also get the green light of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a group of 45 states that export nuclear fuel and technology, and from the US Congress. "There is much that needs to be done," US envoy Schulte said. "We will work closely with India, our NSG partners and the US Congress to ensure that the initiative is implemented as expeditiously as possible," he said.