India hopeful of NSG waiver, China’s support: Narayanan

August 12th, 2008 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Ahead of the crucial meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said China has “indicated it will not be a problem” and expressed hope that even “smaller countries who have worries about non-proliferation” will join their peers to support the India-US nuclear deal. “We can only go by what people say and their body language. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, at every meeting with the prime minister, have indicated that they will not be a problem,” Narayanan told The Straits Times, a leading Singapore daily, in an interview Saturday.

“That happens when they meet and even in telephone conversations. Pakistan did its damnedest to block us in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but China took a very correct position,” he replied when asked about China’s attitude towards the India-US civil nuclear deal, which will be put up for approval by the NSG during its Aug 21 meeting in Vienna.

Narayanan also underlined that India was “hopeful” about the NSG exempting India, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), from its guidelines to allow global nuclear commerce with it.

“We are hopeful. If you take what happened in the IAEA, when the board of governors debated the India-specific safeguards agreement, some countries took a strong line, particularly on the non-proliferation front.

“That is the central theme of the objections. I am not referring to China. Smaller countries brought up on heavy dose of non-proliferation (raised doubts). India’s impeccable record (on non-proliferation) has been made clear,” he said.

Narayanan was referring to sceptical countries in the 45-nation NSG who have hawkish positions on nuclear non-proliferation like Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria and New Zealand. New Delhi has already sent senior envoys to the capitals of these countries to win their support.

The 35-member board of the IAEA met Aug 1 in Vienna and unanimously approved the India-specific safeguards agreement that will bring 14 of its 22 nuclear reactors under international safeguards.

“Wherever we have talked individually they have understood India is unique in many ways. We are hopeful (of getting NSG clearance),” Narayanan said.

He also stressed that although India has voluntarily placed a moratorium on testing, it will test a nuclear device in national interest if compelled by circumstances.

“We have no intention of breaking the moratorium unless circumstances compel us. If circumstances compel, whether 123 agreement existed or not, we would do it because it is in our supreme national interest. I think it is a non-issue,” Narayanan said.

“And we recognise that if you do unilaterally test there will be international repercussions,” he added.

“The 123 contains provisions to discuss why you have tested - is it because the security situation has undergone a change? In this case the US has said that before ceasing cooperation they will examine why a particular thing was done,” he added.

Under the 123 agreement, the US has to give one-year notice to India before terminating nuclear cooperation and consider the circumstances that led to it. The 123 agreement has, however, no explicit mention of nuclear testing.

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