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The Nuclear Suppliers Group finally gave its nod to the India-specific waiver on Saturday. The 45 member nations of the NSG approved a US proposal to drop a ban on trade with India.
The revised draft presented at the meeting has undergone some changes to address the concerns of a few countries, diplomats present at the venue said.
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The Indo-US nuclear deal now faces only one hurdle before operationalisation -- ratification by the US Congress.
Austria, along with Ireland, New Zealand [Images] and Switzerland [Images], had expressed strong reservations over the waiver being given to India. The NSG was forced to have an unscheduled meeting today after two days of deliberations failed to produce a consensus.
Complete coverage: The Indo-US nuclear tango
China, which had last night joined the countries against the waiver, did not oppose the waiver on Saturday but raised some questions regarding specific issues. After the consensus was adopted, Beijing [Images] 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 discussions.
The India-IAEA Safeguards Agreement
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement on 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.
NSG: Do not discard the baby with the bath water
But India had been opposed to the inclusion of any conditions, which it felt would undermine its sovereign right to undertake a nuclear test. New Delhi [Images] 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 today's decision as 'landmark'. He said it was an important moment for strengthening the non-proliferation regime.
Text of revised draft for NSG
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.
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