August 11, 2011

NSG partners must honour their commitments, says India

Special Correspondent

The Government has said the “special exemption” India received from the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s export rules in September 2008 involved “reciprocal commitments and actions by both sides” and that the country’s nuclear partners must “fully honour their commitments in this regard”.

Providing the first formal Indian response to the NSG’s recent decision to ban the sale of enrichment and reprocessing technology to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, External Affairs minister S.M. Krishna told Parliament that the 2008 exemption remains “the basis and overarching framework that governs cooperation in civil nuclear matters between India and the NSG”. The issue is the full implementation of that understanding, he added. “This is what we expect and our major partners are committed to”.

At its plenary in June this year, the NSG adopted restrictive new rules for ENR exports, including the NPT criterion. India, Israel and Pakistan have not signed the treaty, while North Korea withdrew seven years back.

Mr. Krishna said the NSG’s 2008 exemption accorded a special status to India. “It was granted knowing full well that India is not a signatory to the NPT”. He stressed that India would not accept any pre-conditions for transfer of ENR items and technology and there was ``no question’’ of it joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state

Mr. Krishna took heart from the statements issued by the U.S., France and Russia in the aftermath of the NSG’s 2011 plenary which sought to assure India that the 2008 exemption would not be affected by the new rules. In closely matching clarifications, he US and France clarified that the new ENR transfer rules ``do not detract’’ from the 2008 exemption, with Paris going a step further and adding that even future guidelines would in no way detract from that exemption. On its part, Russia has said the new NSG rules do ``not affect in any way’’ the 2008 decision to ``unfreeze nuclear cooperation’’ with India.

The Minister also argued that India was not overly anxious to access overseas ENR technology because it had ``full mastery’’ over the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Any transfer of ENR technology from abroad would be an additionality to accelerate India’s three stage civil nuclear energy programme, he said.

The Government came out with the statement following concerns expressed by Parliamentarians about the implications of the June NSG decision on India’s existing agreements with other countries on civil nuclear cooperation.

Mr. Krishna maintained that the Government had remained true to its objectives from the time it actively set about ending India’s exclusion from world nuclear trade five years ago. In this respect as far as India is concerned, the ``overarching framework’’ for its future civil nuclear cooperation with other countries was the NSG’s ``clean’’ exemption in 2008 under which the 46 countries had agreed to ``transfer all technologies which are consistent with their national law.’’

Emphasising again the reciprocal nature of the commitments the NSG and India made, Mr. Krishna said, “We expect all NSG members to honour their commitments as reflected in the 2008 NSG Statement and our bilateral cooperation agreements.’’

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