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NSG mulls revised waiver draft

Ajay Kaul in Vienna | September 04, 2008 15:24 IST

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The US placed a revised draft waiver before the Nuclear Suppliers Group which met in Vienna [Images] on Thursday to consider the India-specific proposal but there was uncertainty over its fate with some countries continuing to have reservations over the fresh text.

The sceptics, which include New Zealand [Images], Austria, Ireland and
Switzerland, are not satisfied even with the revised text as they want certain "elements" added in it which would be beneficial for the international non-proliferations structure.

"It is clear that the package which is before us (NSG) still needs some work to achieve the outcome which can be the net gain to the quality of international security architecture," an official of one of the sceptic countries told PTI ahead of the meeting of the 45-nation grouping. "A number of measures have to be added to the current package before it can be considered to be a net gain for the world," he said.

India is keeping its "fingers crossed" and hoping that the US would be able to convince the nuclear cartel for clearing the way for nuclear commerce.

Some countries are expected to raise their concerns over the grant of waiver considering that India is not a signatory to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Signalling difficulties for the draft proposal, the sceptic countries held a strategy session in Vienna on Wednesday to discuss how to approach the meeting. These countries "exchanged ideas" over the matter, an official said.

"We recognise the energy needs of India. We recognise importance India attaches to the
(Indo-US) agreement. Everybody respects that. But we need to achieve results that would mean net gain for the international non-proliferation structure," the official said. "We are going to approach the meeting with a constructive and positive spirit because we are interested in reaching the agreement, but one which strengthens the international nuclear structure," he said. "The NPT is one of the pillars of this architecture and nothing should undermine this. Reaching an agreement which will benefit everybody concerned will require imagination and creativity."

The US which is pleading India's case at the NSG, has prepared a revised draft after at least 15 countries sought amendments in the text during the last meeting of the grouping on Aug 21-22.

The draft of the proposal for India-specific exemption at the NSG has undergone further changes which include provision for regular information by its head about New Delhi's [Images] adherence to its guidelines on global atomic trade.

The draft, which has been changed after demands by a number of NSG countries to address non-proliferation concerns, provides for the head of the 45-nation grouping informing the body of India's adherence to its guidelines after holding consultations with the country.

Anti-proliferation lobbyists feel that the amendment falls short of the demand made by some NSG countries for periodic review of
India's adherence to the grouping's guidelines as a condition for granting the waiver, which has been opposed by New Delhi.

The revised draft provides for the NSG chair "to confer and consult" with
India and keep the plenary informed of these consultations with a view to intensifying dialogue and partnership with New Delhi.

Another additional clause in the revised draft says that if one or more NSG countries consider that "circumstances have arisen which require consultation, participating governments will act as per the grouping's guidelines, an apparent reference to a situation in case
India tests an atomic weapon. It also envisages notification by each member-country to inform the others about the approved transfer of nuclear fuel and technologies to India.

The draft also requires
India to support international efforts to limit the spread of and transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to countries which do not have them.

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