NSG waiver: Why should India get a free pass?

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Vienna, Aug 22: No Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) member countries opposed a waiver for India at the crucial meeting on Thursday, Aug 21 but 20 nations asked for a 'non-proliferation conditions' including signing of CTBT, if it decides to grant a waiver to India for resuming civil nuclear commerce. The other conditions include UN inspections of Indian nuclear sites, total ban on nuclear tests and periodic reviews of Indian compliance with the NSG exemption, according to officials here.

With several countries still showing 'concerns' and 'reservations' on the waiver proposal for India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and India adamant that it will only take a 'clean' waiver, it is highly unlikely that the NSG meeting will deliver a verdict on Friday, Aug 22.

Even though Austria, New Zealand and Switzerland had some initial reservations about giving a green signal to India for not having signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT), members proposed amendments to the draft agreement before the deal is taken to the US Congress for ratification and opens doors for India's eventual nuclear commerce with the rest of the world. Acceptance of the draft waiver in its current form could fuel a nuclear arms race in the Asian subcontinent, said Edward J Markey, a critic of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal said.

"When every single member country of the NSG has signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), why should India get a free pass?" he said in a statement.

Both India and the US have lobbied hard with NSG member countries for approval to the deal.

The Indian team which comprises Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, Prime Minister's Special Envoy on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal Shyam Saran and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar also held deliberation with individual members of the NSG to press India's point for an unconditinal waiver. Menon, accompanied by the PM's special envoy Shyam Saran and senior officials of Department of Atomic Energy, is believed to have pointed out to the NSG members that India has in place strict export control regime besides other measures to guard against transfer of dual-use technology or nuclear fuel to ineligible entities.

The deal will go to the US Congress after it is cleared by the NSG and the entire process is likely to be completed by September.


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