ID :
Sun, 09/07/2008 - 13:20
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India gets NSG waiver By Ajay Kaul

Vienna, Sep 6 (PTI) - In a major success for India's nuclear ambitions, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Saturday granted it a crucial waiver that will enable it to carry out nuclear commerce, ending 34 years of isolation enforced in the wake of the 1974 Pokharan nuclear tests.

The unprecedented decision of the 45-nation nuclear cartel giving exemption to a
country which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a landmark step in the implementation of the
Indo-US nuclear deal that will now go to the US Congress for approval.

"After protracted negotiations, the NSG today adopted an exemption for nuclear
exports to India," the Austrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"There is a sense of relief. I am particularly happy that the waiver (for India)
meets with international nuclear non-proliferation architecture," Peter Launsky,
Austrian foreign ministry spokesman said after an unscheduled meeting of the NSG

Austria, along with Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland had expressed strong
reservations over the waiver being given to India that forced the grouping to have
an unscheduled meeting Saturday after two days of deliberations failed to produce a

China, which had last night joined these countries, Saturday did not oppose the
waiver but raised some questions regarding specific issues. After the consensus was
adopted, Beijing expressed its stated position.

Some changes have been made to the revised draft of the waiver to assuage concerns
of the sceptic countries but details of the exact changes were still not available.

Hectic behind the scene negotiations marked the diplomatic triumph for India in
which the US played a major part by talking to the naysayers in extended late night

India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement Friday reaffirming
India's commitment to non-proliferation and disarmament goals and the reference to
its voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing appears to have played a major role in
placating the countries that had strong views on proliferation.

The four countries were initially not fully satisfied with the statement and wanted
this commitment to be incorporated in the US-steered draft waiver. They also wanted
inclusion of the consequences that would follow a nuclear test.

But India had been opposed to inclusion of any conditionalities which it felt would
undermine its sovereign right to undertake a nuclear test. New Delhi is not a member
of the NSG which takes decisions on the principle of consensus.

US acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control John Rood, who steered
Washington's campaign in the NSG, described Saturday's decision as a "landmark". He
said it was an "important moment" for strengthening non-proliferation regime.

Asked what was the main factor that led to the breakthrough, Launsky said Friday's
statement of Mukherjee assuaged the concerns of Austria and like-minded members
making a contribution in achieving the objective.

The relief is also there for Austria particularly in the Indian Government's plan
for separation of 14 power plants that will come under the inspection of the UN
atomic watchdog IAEA.

Austria also issued a statement saying it withdrew its objections after Mukherjee's
statement which, it said, was decisive. The US officials also contended that
transferring nuclear technology to India will bring its atomic programme under
closer scrutiny and boost international non-proliferation efforts.

"This is a historical moment for the NSG, for India and for India's relations with
the rest of the world," Rood said, adding the "very important" statement issued by
Mukherjee Friday played a major role in discussions at the meeting.

He underscored that it was "a critically important moment" for meeting the energy
needs of India and dealing with global challenge of clean energy.

Rood appreciated NSG members for their willingness to approach the dialogue
constructively and in a manner in which "even with regard to most serious concerns,
there was willingness to find a way, to reach a kind of compromise that is necessary
in multilateral negotiations.

"Countries had particular concerns, particular historical experience" but they
approached the issue with the required "constructive and cooperative" attitude, he

Britain said it was happy that a compromise had been reached. "We're very pleased
that we were able to reach a compromise that everyone could live with," British
envoy Simon Smith said.

The NSG was founded after India's 1974 atomic tests.

Officials said US President George W Bush personally lobbied with allies for the
waiver. PTI AKK