Wellington, Aug 11: A top Indian diplomat is heading to New Zealand to call for Wellington to support the US-India civil nuclear cooperation deal. New Zealand is a key member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which is expected to meet later this month determine whether India can sign the deal with the United States.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Helen Clark said "New Zealand has reservations" about the deal and will work with others at a crucial meeting of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) on Thursday, Aug 21. India is seeking New Zealand's cooperation to waive aside a condition that it must be a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) before demanding participation in international civilian nuclear trade.
Indian diplomats regard Switzerland, New Zealand, Austria, Ireland and the Netherlands, as the five "toughest" NSG members to convince.
While special representatives of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have already engaged with three of them, an attempt is now being made to convince leaders in Switzerland and New Zealand to support the waiver for India.
A fortnight ago the UN's atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved an inspections agreement with India that is key to finalising the nuclear cooperation deal that critics say undermines non-proliferation efforts.