Vienna, Aug.22 : New Zealand diplomats are said to have played a major role in attempting to block a nuclear deal between India and the United States late on Thursday night.
Wellington's stance over the deal has won front-page headlines in the Indian media. The 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which includes New Zealand, was meant to have approved the deal, but no consensus was reached yesterday, Fairfax News reports.
New Zealand, Austria, Ireland, Norway and Switzerland have the power to block NSG approval for India.
New Zealand is refusing to accept the deal on the ground that India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). India, on the other hand, wants a waiver from the rule.
The country's Prime Minister, Helen Clark, said that New Zealand, as a nuclear free state, was concerned about the deal.
"It would be no secret that we would like to see more conditionalities around the agreement," she said.
Officials and diplomats said a "lot of ideas" were exchanged during the daylong intense deliberations of the 45-nation grouping on whether or not India should be allowed to have civil nuclear trade with international community.
The diplomat said Austria, Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland expressed concerns.
New Zealand's basic objection appears not to involve the specifics of the India deal, but over its concerns that the NPT itself is being weakened. It did ask why India should be given a waiver. The meeting was unable to reach a decision and will hold another one next week.
Under NSG rules, all nuclear trade with India is banned because it refuses to sign the NPT.
The United States argues that the deal will bring India closer into the NPT fold after 34 years of isolation and help combat global warming by allowing the world's largest democracy to develop low-polluting nuclear energy.
The deal is on a tight timetable and NSG delay could kill it as it needs to be passed by the US Congress before the end of the term of President George Bush at the end of the year.
New Zealand's anti-nuclear principles could cause problems with a country Wellington has been strongly courting over the last five years.