NSG members restart meeting on waiver for India

September 6th, 2008 - 5:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Vienna, Sep 6 (IANS) The 45-member Nuclear Suppliers’ Group began its extraordinary meeting Saturday to find a consensus on a “clean waiver” to start nuclear commerce with India.The unusual decision taken by the NSG to extend their special session that began here Thursday by yet another day shows the seriousness of most members in the group to reach an agreement on the India-specific waiver.

The attempt at Saturday’s session will be to agree on the language of the “changed draft” prepared by the US.

Austria, Ireland and New Zealand are the three main countries opposed to a “clean waiver” for India.

These members have been insisting that unless a provision is contained in the draft that all commerce with India will be terminated immediately if New Delhi conducts another test, the waiver cannot be given.

China, a P-5 member, has also started playing a proactive role to support the demand for the proposed provision in the draft. But indications suggest that attempts are being made by the US leadership to talk to the Chinese leaders in Beijing to ensure China does not stand in the way of the waiver being sought for India.

India has been opposed to “conditionalities” in the waiver that infringes on its sovereign rights.

Closed-door negotiations between India and US officials on a draft with new language and wordings in which the US prepared to accommodate concerns of some NSG members continued till early Saturday morning.

It was only at 2 a.m. Saturday that the NSG members, Indian officials and the US decided to take a break and continue the negotiations around 11 in the morning, Vienna time.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a meeting where External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan were present.

The external affairs minister, who was party to Friday night’s long-distance negotiations on the new draft, briefed the prime minister on the developments at the NSG meeting in Vienna.

Mukherjee made a statement Friday re-affirming India’s commitment to a “voluntary moratorium” it had announced soon after the May 1998 nuclear tests.

“We remain committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. We do not subscribe to any arms race, including a nuclear arms race,” the minister had said in his statement.

He had also reminded the NSG about India’s impeccable track record on non-proliferation while arguing that the proposed waiver will help further strengthen the global non proliferation agenda.

But some NSG members continued to remain sceptical and insisted that provisions should be made in the draft to deal with the situation if India conducted another nuclear test.

Saturday’s session of the NSG will make it clear whether the new language in the draft is acceptable to them or whether they will have another meeting to agree on the proposed waiver for India.

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