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NSG Defers Rule Change Against India, Questions Sino-Pak Deal

In a week of energetic nuclear diplomacy, the government has forestalled a potentially negative change in global rules on nuclear technology transfer to India, got Japan's assent to begin a dialogue on bilateral nuclear cooperation
nsg defers rule change against india questions...
PTI June 26, 2010 9:47 IST
In a week of energetic nuclear diplomacy, the government has forestalled a potentially negative change in global rules on nuclear technology transfer to India, got Japan's assent to begin a dialogue on bilateral nuclear cooperation and is all set to sign a nuclear deal with Canada, reports Indian Express.

Although China might yet get away with its sale of two new nuclear reactors to Pakistan, the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group today underlined the importance of openness in Beijing's nuclear negotiations with Islamabad.

In an oblique reference to the discussions on the proposed Sino-Pak nuclear deal, the full details of which are yet to emerge, the NSG in a statement issued after two days of deliberations in Christchurch, New Zealand underlined “the value of ongoing consultation and transparency”.

If India's diplomacy with the 46-nation NSG was a preventive one, it took a lot of pro-active engagement in getting Japan to start the nuclear negotiations and Canada to conclude them. Tokyo and Ottawa are near fanatical in their commitment to the non-proliferation regime.

Earlier this week, India was surprised by reports that the NSG was closing ranks to approve new rules that would restrict the transfer of enriched uranium and reprocessing technologies to India.

Acting swiftly, the Foreign Office formally cautioned the United States, France, Russia, Britain and Germany against any retrospective modification of the NSG guidelines against India.

In separate demarches issued to the envoys of major powers and the NSG host New Zealand here this week, the Foreign Office made it clear that any diminution of the “clean waiver” to the guidelines of the NSG that India had negotiated so carefully in September 2008 would be unacceptable.

If new criteria such as membership of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty were to be approved for future transfers of enrichment and reprocessing technologies, India insisted that its own waiver should be excluded from those.

Whether the Indian logic was accepted in toto or not, the NSG today did hold back from announcing a change in the terms of transfer for enrichment and reprocessing technologies.

In its statement issued today, the NSG pointed to postponement of the decision in stating that members had “agreed to continue considering ways to further strengthen guidelines dealing with the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies”.

More welcome in Delhi today was news from Tokyo, where the Japanese foreign minister Katsuya Okada announced the decision to start negotiating an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation with India.

During the last year, France and the United States, whose reactor vendors have collaborations with Japanese companies, have been pressing Tokyo to clear the legal path for their nuclear cooperation with India.

“There are projects that suppliers of other countries are involved in (in India) that require Japanese technologies and components. That is a point of consideration,” Okada told a news conference.

That there is powerful opposition in Tokyo to nuclear cooperation with Delhi was reflected in an editorial of the ‘Asahi Shimbun' newspaper on Thursday which called it “inappropriate” for Japan to embark on nuclear cooperation with India, “a nation that has armed itself with nuclear weapons and has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)”.

Delhi appreciates that in courting a major controversy at home, the new Japanese government led by Naoto Kan has unveiled a positive gesture towards India. The two sides are wasting no time and have decided to hold the first round of nuclear negotiations next Monday.

As one set of important nuclear negotiations begin in Tokyo, another will be brought to successful closure in Toronto this weekend when India and Canada sign an agreement for bilateral nuclear cooperation.

Like Japan, Canada is a vocal champion of nuclear non proliferation, and has nursed for decades a deep bitterness about India's first nuclear test in 1974. As one of India's earliest partners in nuclear energy, Canada felt betrayed at India's use of plutonium from a research reactor that Ottawa helped build.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will have the pleasure of bringing that unpleasant chapter in India's nuclear history to a close.
 

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