India moves to allay NSG apprehensions

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New Delhi, Sept 5 : The Centre on Friday said it is committed to strengthening of non-proliferation regime and again underlined the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement here that India would work with the international community to advance the "common objective" of non-proliferation.

Assuring the world community that India will not be a source of proliferation of sensitive technologies, including enrichment and reprocessing transfers, Mukherjee said: "We do not subscribe to any arms race, including nuclear arms race. We have always tempered the exercise of our strategic autonomy with a sense of global responsibility. We affirm our policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons".

Pointing that New Delhi remained committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. The Minister said: "We stand for the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime."

Mukherjee's statement assumes significance as it has come on day two a crucial 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting in Vienna.

Meanwhile, NSG countries are believed to be not in favour of a third meeting, which from New Delhi's point of view is a favourable.

According to diplomatic sources, Japan and China are said to be in favour of a consensus on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Countries like New Zealand Austria, Norway, Ireland, The Netherlands and Switzerland have expressed their reservations to granting an India-specific waiver and have raised questions at the NSG meeting on Thursday, particularly with regard to the issue of nuclear testing.

Soon after the deliberations of the opening day of the two-day meeting of the NSG concluded, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and Prime Minister's Special Envoy Shyam Saran met diplomats of these countries in an attempt to allay their apprehensions.

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, who is heading the US delegation in Vienna said: ''We are making steady progress in this process and will continue to make progress, And while a number of representatives here have raised important questions that need to be addressed, our discussions have been constructive and clearly aimed at reaching an early consensus."

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