NSG waiver due to India’s rise as global power: Australia

September 11th, 2008 - 10:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) India got the waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) because of its rise as a global power, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said here Thursday, arguing that the nuclear cartel would have refused the same concession to any other country.According to Smith, there were three broad reasons why the 45-member NSG decided in favour of India.

“One, even if it was a non-Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) country, it was not the cause for proliferation and two was the statement of the external affairs minister (Pranab Mukherjee) re-affirming India’s track record on non-proliferation and commitment to disarmament,” he said.

But he felt the third reason why the NSG changed its rule was because of “India’s rise as a global power”.

“If such a request was made for another country, I don’t think it would have been cleared by the NSG members.”

On a four-day visit to India, his first since becoming Australia’s foreign minister, Smith made no bones about repeating that his government was not yet ready to supply uranium to a country like India that has not signed the NPT. He, however, left the room open for cooperation between the two countries on “dual-use items”.

Explaining the “positive” role played by Australia both at the International Atomic Energy Agency when India signed its frameworks agreement Aug 1 and later at the NSG special session in Vienna Sep 4-6 when the cartel that controls the world’s supply of nuclear fuel and technology bent its rule to start commerce with India.

Smith, responding to questions after he delivered a speech at the Indian Council of World Affairs on ‘Australia and India: A new partnership in the Asia Pacific Century’ Thursday evening, listed out the factors that made the NSG members change its rule for India.

His explanation for the special concession shown to India because of its rising global stature is noteworthy. Pakistan, which had conducted a series of nuclear tests within weeks of the Indian tests of May 1998, has often said that the international community, particularly the US, must grant similar concessions to it.

But Smith’s remarks made it clear that the NSG may not make such concessions for any other country in the near future.

“The Australian government’s policy is not to supply uranium to non-NPT countries. That policy approach is of long standing and well-known,” Smith said by way of explaining why Canberra would not change its stand.

“Our policy has also been, and remains, not to supply other items to non-NPT signatories for use in nuclear programmes. This position remains unaffected by the NSG decision,” he added.

But he hinted that there may be cooperation between the two sides on dual-use technologies. “This also does not disturb Australia’s ongoing approach to consider, on a case-by-case basis, applications for the export of dual-use items,” he said.

Smith called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later in the evening and is scheduled to meet and discuss in detail the entire gamut of bilateral relations with Mukherjee Friday.

“Australia is mindful of India’s profound need for energy and resources,” Smith said. But he argued that relations between the two countries were mature enough where they could accept their “differences” such as they have on uranium supply.

“Australia’s relationship with India goes far beyond the export of minerals, indeed one individual commodity,” the foreign minister added.

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