NSG will meet again in September to resolve differences (Lead)

August 22nd, 2008 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, Aug 22 (IANS) The Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) will meet again on Sep 4-5 to resolve differences that arose after some members insisted on including a provision in the draft to halt all nuclear commerce with India if it conducted further tests with the Indian delegation making it clear it will not accept any such conditions in the document.The 45-members NSG ended its two-day meeting here Friday but could not come to a decision on whether its existing ban should be lifted to begin business on civil nuclear energy with India.

Well-placed sources said the United States, which had taken the initiative of preparing the draft for the NSG members, has been asked to prepare a fresh document that could be acceptable to the Group and India.

But so far there has been no indication from the Indian side whether it was prepared to accept a new draft. However, the NSG decided that since it could not resolve the differences it was better to gain some more time and meet yet again in September.

The venue of the next NSG meeting can either be in Vienna or Berlin, since Germany is the current chairman of the Group.

Even before the NSG meeting ended, it became clear that the proposed provision suggested by some members to the draft was becoming the sticking point for a final decision from the Group on the Indian waiver.

Most members are in favour of lifting the current ban that prevents nuclear commerce between the NSG and a non-signatory to the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) like India. But some NSG members insist that it should not be lifted unless New Delhi formally says no to further nuclear tests.

India had made it clear it will not accept any “new” provisions in the draft that the United States had prepared for NSG before its two-day meeting began here Thursday.

“There is no question of India accepting any conditions or any new provision in the draft,” Indian diplomatic sources told IANS.

India has announced a voluntary moratorium on further tests, but it has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that prevents countries from conducting further tests.

Some NSG members like Austria, Ireland and Switzerland have serious reservations of giving India a “clean waiver” without a formal assurance from it that there will be no further tests.

The sources said these members have suggested that the provision to stop all commerce with India on civil nuclear energy be brought in if New Delhi conducts any tests in future.

Asked whether India will walk out from the talks if it does not get a “clean waiver,” Indian sources told IANS: “We are not even a member of the NSG. If at all, it is the Americans who should stage a walkout.”

The US has been engaged in hectic lobbying with the Indian delegation that include Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and the prime minister’s special envoy Shyam Saran to agree to what was described as “subtle” changes in the draft.

A lot may depend on the final wording and whether the Indian delegation is comfortable with it. But if it feels the new language to be “objectionable”, it may reject it altogether.

Attempts are also on by members of the US delegation to convince the NSG members, particularly those who are keen on the provision in the draft, to drop the idea. If that happens the possibility of a clean waiver from the NSG, with the support of the 45-member countries, may be reached by the end of the second day’s meeting Friday.

Till Thursday, when the NSG members began their two-day meeting here, both India and the US seemed hopeful with John Rood, US under secretary, arms control and international security, saying he was “optimistic that we will be successful in this process.”

From the Indian point of view, the mood remained upbeat, as Menon’s briefing to the NSG members seemed to have had a “positive and satisfying” effect on them.

Answering queries from the members, the foreign secretary had tried to convince them why the lifting of the existing ban will not only benefit India but also the 45-members of the NSG and strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.

The mood, however, seemed to have changed after some of the NSG members started insisting that the provision to halt commerce with India if it conducts further tests be introduced in the draft.

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