India to NSG : voluntary moratorium stays, no arms race


New Delhi/Vienna : In a last ditch effort to win sceptics in the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) that is meeting in Vienna to discuss a clean waiver, India Friday said its deal with the US would strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and reiterated its commitment to voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing.

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New Delhi also allayed fears of a nuclear arms race and underlined that India had “always tempered the exercise of our strategic autonomy with a sense of global responsibility”.

“Our civil nuclear initiative will strengthen the international non-proliferation regime. India believes that the opening of full civil nuclear cooperation will be good for India and for the world,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement in New Delhi.

Mukherjee’s statement came on a day the 45-nation NSG is expected to make up its mind on granting a clean waiver from the existing rules of global nuclear trade. The two-day discussions had started Thursday.

The statement is expected to further boost India’s case as the first day of the plenary of the NSG in Vienna ended on an optimistic note with a narrowing of differences over the draft exemption.

“It will have a profound positive impact on global energy security and international efforts to combat climate change,” Mukherjee said with an eye on winning NSG countries with the argument of clean energy.

In yet another assurance to the international community on the crucial issue of testing, the minister said: “We remain committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.

“We do not subscribe to any arms race, including a nuclear arms race,” he said.

“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,” he added.

The reiteration of India’s stand on voluntary moratorium comes close on the heels of a US State Department letter, which was made public Tuesday, to the Congress linking testing with the termination of fuel supplies.

The secret letter has created a political storm in India with leading opposition parties accusing the Manmohan Singh government of misleading the parliament on the all-important issue of testing.

“India will not be the source of proliferation of sensitive technologies, including enrichment and reprocessing transfers,” Mukherjee said.

“We stand for the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime. We support international efforts to limit the spread of ENR equipment or technologies to states that do not have them,” he added.

“We will work together with the international community to advance our common objective of non-proliferation,” he stressed.