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NSG nod to India-specific waiver unlikely, says critic

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | August 20, 2008 09:01 IST

Despite intense lobbying, it is unlikely that the Nuclear Suppliers Group will approve an India-specific draft waiver to conduct nuclear trade with its members during a two-day meet scheduled to begin on Wednesday, a prominent arms-control think-tank opposed to the India-United States nuclear deal has said.

Coverage: The Indo-US nuclear agreement

"The US and India are certainly using strong-arms tactics but reports that a decision on the proposal could occur this week don't appear to match with the reality that many states of the 45-member NSG group still have significant concerns," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

The group could even postpone the case for a second or third meeting in September as certain changes would have to be made to the proposed text to get the NSG nod, Kimball claimed.

Hyde Act not binding on India: US

"The US, Germany [Images] and India are privately acknowledging that a second or third meeting will likely be convened sometime in September on the issue and that changes to the US' August 6 proposed text will be necessary to achieve NSG consensus," he said in an e-mail update on the Vienna [Images] meet.

"Perhaps in recognition of the many difficulties the proposal faces in the NSG, Germany has reportedly invited India to present its case and answer questions from NSG countries at this week's meeting.

Explained: The Indo-US nuclear deal

"The reports cite unnamed India officials as saying they are hesitant to do so. That is not surprising since India's participation in the discussion could force its officials to answer some uncomfortable but essential questions about its bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements with the US, France [Images], and Russia [Images], as well as its interpretation of the India- safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other issues," the official said.

Kimball expressed doubt whether the fuel supply assurances referred to in the Indo-US bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement were "legally-binding or only politically binding?"

    'Clear waiver at NSG is a fantasy' 

"Also with respect to the safeguards agreement approved by the IAEA on August 1, does India formally recognise that it may not unilaterally terminate the agreement or withdraw facilities or materials from safeguards, even if fuel supplies are interrupted due to New Delhi [Images] resuming testing or violating its safeguards agreement?

"Has India initiated formal negotiations with the IAEA regarding an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement, or not?" he asked.

'US can't have different standards for India'

The civilian nuclear deal critic has pointed out that a media report in India had spoken about the possibility of New Delhi circulating a paper outlining 'its good nonproliferation record'.

"If India does circulate such a document, NSG diplomats should follow up by asking about India's nuclear procurement practices, questioned in a March 2006 report from Institute for Science and International Security. It should also be asked to respond to the calls for Indian nuclear and missile restraint in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1172 that was issued in June 1998," Kimball said.

The India-IAEA Safeguards Agreement

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