NSG sceptics say they are under pressure over India waiver

September 2nd, 2008 - 8:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, Sep 2 (IANS) Six countries opposed to a “clean waiver” for India have complained that they were under pressure to seek a compromise at the forthcoming meeting of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) here.”We are under pressure to agree to an acceptable compromise at the September 4-5 meeting,” a diplomat from one of the six countries opposed to a “clean waiver” for India said on condition of anonymity

Indian and US officials are planning to talk jointly to NSG members ahead of Thursday’s crucial meeting that would decide whether the group’s existing ban should be lifted to start nuclear commerce with India.

They are expected to focus on sceptics to highlight India’s impeccable non-proliferation record and its growing need for clean energy to convince the doubters that the waiver for India would strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.

The 45-member NSG begins its two-day meeting from Sep 4 to decide on the “clean waiver” that India is seeking.

The existing NSG guidelines prevent nuclear commerce with a country like India that has not signed the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon will arrive here Wednesday, a day before the special session of the NSG, to talk to select members in the nuclear cartel to ensure the waiver comes through without any conditions.

Indian officials here told the IANS that other members of foreign secretary’s delegation that include R.B.Grover from the Department of Atomic Energy and Venkatesh Varma from India’s mission in Geneva would also join him to start talks with the NSG members on the eve of the two-day meeting.

At least six members in the NSG - Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland - are opposed to a “clean waiver” for India as they fear it will impact adversely on the non-proliferation regime.

They are also insisting on including a reference to testing in the waiver that will make clear that all global nuclear cooperation with India will cease if New Delhi conducted a nuclear test.

They are also demanding inclusion of what India sees as “prescriptive provisions” like a periodic review of India’s compliance with non-proliferation norms and restricting the export and transfer of enrichment and re-processing technologies. India has made it clear that it will not accept the waiver if “red lines” on any of these issues are crossed.

With some sceptics in the NSG like Austria and New Zealand refusing to dilute their opposition to India-specific waiver, there were speculations in certain quarters that the NSG members might defer a decision on the Indian waiver to another meeting for September 11 and 12.

However, with the clock ticking away for the approval of the US Congress, which convenes Sep 8, there is very little likelihood of another NSG meeting.

“The only thing for sure is we have a new draft. The rest are all speculation,” a diplomat from a western country told the IANS Tuesday.

The last meeting of the NSG held here on Aug 20-21 remained inconclusive, as the members could not agree on whether a “clean waiver” should be given to India without proper provisions to address their non-proliferation concerns.

The US has prepared a new draft, in close consultation with India, that is expected to reflect some of the concerns of NSG skeptics without including any provision that will prove to be deal-breaker.

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