India Doesn’t Agree with New NSG Conditions

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Aug. 25 – Rising the heat on India's controversial nuclear deal further, Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, refused to accept any new conditions laid out by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, throwing the deal into limbo.

Accepting any new multilateral agreements such as inspections of Indian civilian nuclear sites and cancellation of any waiver if India tests bombs again are not possible for the Indian government, Mukerjee told the 45-nation delegation in Vienna last week. "We have to see what kind of amendments come. Then only we can decide. But we cannot accept prescriptive conditionalities," the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee as saying.

Referring to the draft waiver — which if adopted will allow NSG members to open nuclear trade with India — Mukherjee said the government would have to examine what its altered text read like. But his comments made it evident that there was not much that India could "give" as all the areas which were red flagged at Vienna are extremely contentious from India’s point of view, the Times of India reported.

Government sources said that India has conveyed to the US that it will resist any move to rephrase the draft and that the minister indicated this. "We have to see what are the amendments proposed. We can talk only after that but we will not accept any prescriptive amendment," stated Mukherjee, while accompanying President Pratibha Patil on a visit to Kolkata.

Even before the NSG conclave, Indian negotiators had told the US that the "political situation" in India made more concessions quite impossible. As it is India was not overly pleased with the commitments contained in the July 18, 2005, Manmohan Singh-George Bush joint statement being brought into the waiver. These included India’s unilateral moratorium, export contral laws, and separation of civil and military facilities.

While the NSG is divided over the deal with India, The International Herald Tribune reported that the group's approval of an Indian waiver is essential for the finalizing of a separate civil nuclear cooperation pact between New Delhi and Washington. The pact, which still must be approved by the U.S. Congress, would reverse more than three decades of U.S. policy by allowing the sale of nuclear materials to a country that has tested nuclear weapons but has refused to sign nonproliferation treaties.

Earlier this month, India fulfilled another prerequisite for the U.S. pact by completing an inspection agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that would allow U.N. monitors access to a total of 14 Indian civilian nuclear reactors by 2014. Six of the reactors already fall under existing safeguards agreements.

Approval of the waiver by the suppliers' group would enable other countries to strike similar nuclear deals with India.

India conducted its first nuclear test explosion 34 years ago.