India sticks to clean NSG waiver sans conditions

August 29th, 2008 - 8:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) Ahead of the crucial meeting of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in Vienna next week, India Friday made it clear that it will only accept “a clean waiver without any conditions” from the cartel that controls global export of nuclear fuel and knowhow. “We have made it quite clear that we are interested in a clean waiver from the NSG,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers of a seven-nation regional grouping.

“We have presented our case, we have made our position quite clear to our interlocutors,” he replied when asked whether he was confident about the NSG clearing an exemption for global nuclear commerce with India.

Mukherjee’s assertion came amid speculation about changes in the draft exemption which the NSG will be discussing at its meeting Sep 4-5 in Vienna before taking a decision on resuming global nuclear trade with India.

The last meeting of the NSG, held in Vienna Aug 20-21, ended on an inconclusive note with some sceptical countries in the NSG raising objections about some aspects of the India-US civil nuclear deal that they suspect can adversely affect global non-proliferation regime.

“In between we have directly contacted some NSG countries. We shall have to wait for the final outcome,” he said.

Some NSG members like Austria, Switzerland, Ireland and Norway are pushing for adding extra conditions like the termination of nuclear cooperation in case of India conducting a nuclear test and periodic review of India’s compliance with non-proliferation norms before granting a waiver to New Delhi from the existing rules of nuclear trade.

Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar, a key Indian interlocutor on the nuclear deal, also underlined that New Delhi will not accept any conditions outside the July 18, 2005 civil nuclear understanding between India and the US.

“We have done everything that was possible. We can’t accept any more conditionalities,” Kakodkar said on the sidelines of a lecture he delivered on “Managing Atoms for Human Welfare” at Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), India’s premier strategic think tank.

He was responding to reporters’ queries about about likely changes in the proposed waiver in the NSG.

“The whole thing has to be within the parameters of the July 18, 2005 civil nuclear understanding,” he underlined.

“Language may change but the substance will not change,” he emphasized when asked about speculation about likely changes in the language of the draft of the NSG exemption.

“The country has all along a standing policy and it remains,” he said while referring to India’s volunatary moratorium on nuclear testing.

“I am an optimist. I am a realist. I always keep my feet on the ground,” he said when asked whether he was confident about winning a clean waiver from the NSG.

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