NSG not to sell sensitive technologies to India: Report

September 12th, 2008 - 10:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 12 (IANS) While granting its waiver, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) privately agreed not to sell sensitive technologies to India, a US daily reported Friday, adding fuel to the fire over the India-US civil nuclear deal.Citing unnamed sources familiar with the NSG discussions at Vienna last week, the Washington Post said its previously undisclosed understanding helped persuade several sceptical member states to support a waiver authorising nuclear trade with India.

“The agreement undercuts one of the Indian government’s key rationales for seeking a civilian nuclear deal with the United States - that it would open the door for ‘full civil nuclear cooperation’ with the rest of the world,” the daily suggested.

The report comes shortly after US President George Bush’s assertion that assurances about reliable supply of nuclear fuel given to India were “political commitments” and not legally binding on the US - stirring a fresh controversy over the deal.

In his message asking Congress to approve the implementing 123 agreement, Bush said: “In Article 5(6) the Agreement records certain political commitments concerning reliable supply of nuclear fuel given to India Agreement (but) does not, however, transform these political commitments into legally binding commitments because the Agreement, like other US agreements of its type, is intended as a framework agreement.”

The Post said the NSG separately is nearing consensus on a total ban on sensitive sales to countries such as India that have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty - a move that would put such trade even further out of New Delhi’s reach.

The NSG discussion has received little public attention, but it was another factor in persuading countries such as Ireland, New Zealand and Austria to end their effort to write such trade restrictions into the waiver for India, the newspaper suggested.

“In the discussions about how to handle enrichment and reprocessing, it was made clear that nobody had any plans to transfer such technologies to India in the foreseeable future,” a senior US official was quoted as saying.

While such statements were not binding, he said, the NSG countries recognised that they were planning to “tighten up” the rules on such sales in the near future, allowing them to achieve the same restrictions on India later without causing a diplomatic rupture now.

The current NSG guidelines call for members “to exercise restraint in the transfer of sensitive facilities, technology and material usable for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”.

Several member countries, such as Canada and Argentina, are seeking language that would permit them to develop and sell their own nuclear fuel technology, but all members appear to agree that countries that have not signed the treaty should be banned from such trade, the Post said.

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