India says no to new provisions in NSG draftAugust 22nd, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS
Vienna, Aug 22 (IANS) A proposed provision in the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group draft seeking to halt all nuclear commerce between the Group and India if it conducted further tests seemed to have become the sticking point as the 45-member NSG went into the second round of its meeting here Friday.Most members are in favour of lifting the current ban that prevents nuclear commerce between the NSG and a non-signatory of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), like India. But some NSG members insist that it should not be lifted unless New Delhi formally says no to further nuclear tests.
India has made it clear it will not accept any “new” provisions in the draft that the United States had prepared for NSG before its two-day meeting began here Thursday.
“There is no question of India accepting any conditions or any new provision in the draft,” sources told the IANS.
India has announced a voluntary moratorium on further tests, but it has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that prevents countries from conducting further tests.
Some NSG members like Austria, Ireland and Switzerland have serious reservations of giving India a “clean waiver” without a formal assurance from it that there will be no further tests.
Sources said these members have suggested that the provision to stop all commerce with India on civil nuclear energy be brought in if New Delhi conducts any tests in future.
Asked whether India will walkout from the talks if it does not get a “clean waiver,” sources told the IANS: ” We are not even a member of the NSG. If at all, it is the Americans who should stage a walk out.”
But the US has been engaged in hectic lobbying with the Indian delegation that include foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon and the prime minister’s ’special envoy’ Shyam Saran to agree to “the subtle” changes in the draft.
A lot may depend on the final wording and whether the Indian delegation is comfortable with it. But if it feels the new language to be “objectionable”, it may reject it altogether.
Attempts are also on by members of the US delegation to convince the NSG members, particularly those who are keen on the provision in the draft, to drop the idea. If that happens the possibility of a clean waiver from the NSG, with the support of the 45-member countries may be reached by the end of the second-day’s meeting.
But if the differences between the two sides continue then the Americans may try to get an assurance from the NSG for a future meeting - probably in September to resolve the issue, sources said.
Till Thursday, when the NSG members began their two-day meeting here both India and the US seemed hopeful with John Rood, US under secretary, arms control and international security, saying he was “optimistic that we will be successful in this process.”
From the Indian point of view, the mood remained upbeat, as foreign secretary Menon’s briefing to the NSG members seemed to have had a “positive and satisfying” effect on them.
Answering queries from the members, the foreign secretary had tried to convince them why the lifting of the existing ban will not only benefit India but also the 45-members of the NSG and strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.
The mood, however, seemed to have changed after some of the NSG members started insisting that the provision to halt commerce with India if it conducts further tests be introduced in the draft.