India not concerned over G8 nuclear stance


New Delhi : Pointing to the “clean waiver” obtained from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), India Monday declared that it was “not concerned over what position the G8 takes” on not transferring nuclear technology unless India signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

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“We have a clean waiver from the NSG. We have an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). We are not concerned over what position the G8 takes (on nuclear commerce with India),” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee declared during zero hour in the Rajya Sabha.

“Every individual country (that is a member of the NSG) can trade with us. Is G8 the right forum for discussing the terms of nuclear trade with India? It is not the relevant and appropriate authority.

“Therefore, we are not deeply concerned,” Mukherjee maintained, in the first public remarks by the Indian government on the G8 declaration Friday at the conclusion of its L’Aquila summit “to curb transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology” to countries that have not signed the NPT.

“To reduce the proliferation risks associated with the spread of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, equipment and technology, we welcome the progress that continues to be made by the NSG on mechanisms to strengthen controls on transfers of such enrichment and reprocessing items and technology,” the declaration said.

The declaration, however, commits these countries to implement on a “national basis” the “useful and constructive proposals” on ways of strengthening controls on ENR items and technology “contained in the NSG’s ‘clean text’ developed at the 20 November 2008 Consultative Group meeting”.

The declaration at the end of the G8 summit, which was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, called upon all countries to sign the NPT while deciding to step up efforts for a swift conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The message, according to observers, was aimed at India – the only NPT holdout at the summit.

The NSG, the global grouping that controls international nuclear trade, made an exception for India Sep 6, 2008 by rewriting its rules to allow the nuclear suppliers to resume civil nuclear business with New Delhi after a gap of 34 years.

With India insisting on “clean and unconditional waiver”, including its right of access to the ENR technolgy, the NSG, while granting the waiver, had stated that “participating governments may transfer nuclear-related dual-use equipment, materials, software and related technology to India for peaceful purposes and for use in IAEA safeguarded civil nuclear facilities”.

Raising the G8 resolution during zero hour, Najma Heptullah (of the Bharatiya Janata Party) asked whether India had been consulted before it was passed.

“If not, then India’s sensitivities are being ignored. India is being subjected to additional conditionalities that are not acceptable. The prime minister had said in this house that we would get a full waiver. Full means full.

“The matter is very serious and that is why we are raising it in the house. The government should clarify,” Heptullah added.

Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan did not agree with her.

“It is for the government to say. I can’t ask the government to react to what you have raised. It is for the government to react,” Khan said while the BJP and other opposition members raised a din on the issue.

“Why is the house being kept in the dark?” demanded Brinda Karat (of the Communist Party of India-Marxist), adding: “It’s not just a matter of the government. It was an assurance given to the house (that no conditions would be imposed on India).”