Track II initiative led to US backing India for NSG

November 7th, 2010 - 8:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Manish Chand
New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) The US decision to support India for full membership of the top four nuclear clubs, including the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, emanated from a Track II initiative that involved former diplomats and top nuclear experts from both sides.

The decision is set to be reflected in the India-US joint statement Monday, highly-placed sources told IANS.

US Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Saturday announced the US’ decision to support India’s full membership in the four multilateral export control regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australian Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Since the NSG and the MTCR requires a prospective member to be a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the US is expected to commit in the joint statement that it will work with other countries to evolve membership criteria for accommodating India which has not signed the NPT as it considers it discriminatory.

Froman had stressed that India’s membership of these nuclear regimes “will come in a phased manner.”

The Australia Group, which deals with chemical and biological weapons, and the Wassenaar Arrangement, that deals with conventional weapons and dual use technology, do not require members to be NPT signatories.

The Obama administration, considered hawkish on nuclear proliferation issues, relented to accept India’s proposal for membership of the non-proliferation bodies after intense discussions in the Track II format under the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), which was organised in collaboration with Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington.

The first meeting was held in New Delhi in November last year ahead of Manmohan Singh’s visit to Washington as the first state guest of the Obama presidency, Lalit Mansingh, a former ambassador to US who was part of the Track II initiative from the Indian side, disclosed to IANS.

The second meeting nearly coincided with the India-US strategic dialogue in June in Washington and ended with a recommendation urging the two governments (India and the US) to give India access and membership to four international bodies that deal with nuclear non-proliferation.

The meeting also recommended that the US should stop insisting India should sign the NPT and include India as a de facto member of the global non-proliferation regime without signing the NPT, said Mansingh.

Mansingh is pleasantly surprised that the group’s key recommendation has been accepted by the Obama administration and stressed that it is a logical conclusion of the India-US nuclear deal which exceptionalized New Delhi in view of its impeccable non-proliferation record.

The participants in the NTI, organised in collaboration with CSIS, included former diplomats Lalit Mansingh, K.C. Singh and T.P. Sreenivasan; P.R. Chari of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, C. Raja Mohan, strategic affairs editor of The Indian Express, Gen. V. Raghavan of Delhi Policy Group and M.R. Srinivasan, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.

Top US nuclear and strategic experts, including Teresita Schaffer, director of CSIS, John Rohlfing, president of NTI, Walter Anderson, of the School of Advanced International Studies, Lisa Curtis of Heritage Foundation and Scott Sagan of Stanford University participated in the deliberations from the American side.

(Manish Chand can be contacted at manish.c@ians.in)

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