Nuclear exporting nations voice concerns over India-US pact


Vienna : Diplomats from several nuclear-exporting countries were critical Wednesday of the US move to seek no additional conditions in international export guidelines for India to receive foreign nuclear supplies.

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Under its 2005 nuclear deal with India, the US pledged to seek changes in international export norms that currently forbid exports of nuclear technology or materials to countries like India, which has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In return, India agreed to separate its nuclear weapons programme from its civilian energy sector, allowing inspections by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, limiting the global spread of sensitive technology, implementing its own export controls and keeping a moratorium on nuclear bomb tests.

But Washington’s draft proposal to exempt India from the export rules of the 45-country Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) shows there is no clear link between allowing nuclear shipments to India and its non-proliferation commitments, diplomats said.

“There don’t seem to be any conditions,” one NSG diplomat commented.

India and the US require NSG clearance before the agreement can be sent to the US Congress for ratification in September.

In the latest version of the trade exemption proposal, the US has apparently deleted a provision from a previous draft that allowed nuclear exports only if “India continues to fully meet” non- proliferation commitments.

The current version refers indirectly only to importers’ obligations not to use imports for nuclear bombs and to protect nuclear goods from unauthorized use, diplomats said.

Diplomats were also worried that the US is seeking to give India a say in the NSG’s decision making, even though it is not a member.

“Participation of India in the decisions regarding proposed amendments will facilitate their implementation by India,” the US draft said with regard to possible future rule changes of the NSG.

Wednesday, the US-based Arms Control Association published the draft on its website. The text was submitted last week to NSG members ahead of their Aug 21-22 meeting to discuss the exemption.

The NSG is unlikely to agree on the proposed exemption next week and would likely need another meeting in early September, diplomats said.