NSG waiver allows ‘full cooperation’, says IndiaSeptember 13th, 2008 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) Brushing aside reports suggesting that the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will not have “full civil nuclear cooperation” with India, South Block has stressed it will go by official documents rather than by contents of “so-called secret pacts”.”As far as we are concerned India has got the waiver it had asked for from the NSG that allows full civil nuclear cooperation with all its member countries,” sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) told IANS Saturday.
A story carried by the Washington Post Friday suggested that NSG members have had a secret pact not to cooperate with India on sensitive technologies.
“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.
But France, a key player in the field of civil nuclear energy and member of the NSG, has made it clear that it will offer its “first generation” EPR nuclear reactor to India and also hold talks with it on cooperation in re-processing technology.
The Indian establishment sees much of the negative campaign as part of the frustration of the US based non-proliferation lobbies.
Officially, India has not reacted to the report. But sources in the ministry, who asked for anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media, said that New Delhi will go by what is in the official NSG document rather than in the secret pacts between members of the group.
“These lobbies have been campaigning against an Indian waiver and feel totally frustrated and disappointed for not being able to stop it,” sources said.
“I guess they will perhaps die down once the Indo-US nuclear deal is completed,” they added.
The nuclear deal is now before the US Congress for its final approval. There are indications that it may come through and be ready for signature when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush meet in Washington Sep 25.
On Friday, India officially reacted to news report that highlighted portions of President Bush’s letter to Congressman Howard Berman in which he said the fuel supply assurance to India was not “legally binding” on the US government.
MEA spokesman Navtej Sarna had maintained that India will go by the 123 agreement between India and the US and once it came into force it will become a legal document.
But in private, Indian and foreign diplomats argue that most agreements, especially on sensitive areas like civil nuclear energy, were enforceable through political understanding rather than by legally binding documents.
French officials also argue that while provisions for fuel supply were part of the proposed pact it plans to finalise with India on civil nuclear energy cooperation, it will not make it legally binding.
They pointed out that countries which set up or sell nuclear reactors also provide for nuclear fuel to run them. But since the fuel is not something that is easily available, no country will go into an assurance that is legally binding.
“More often that not such guarantees work on the basis of the political equations between countries, rather than through legal mechanisms,” French officials told IANS.