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India holds talks with N-suppliers
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
A delegation of the 30-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) held a crucial round of talks with senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs here recently which may have an immense strategic significance for India in the near future.

The importance of the NSG can be best understood by the fact that India’s ultimate ambition of getting access to the top-end sensitive technology from the West — a uranium reactor— cannot be realised till this group gives its green signal. The meeting assumes significance as getting access to a uranium reactor will be one of the foremost near-term strategic objectives when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travels to the US on a bilateral visit in the third week of July.

The NSG delegation, led by Mr Richard Ekwall, Director, Strategic Exports Control of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, held talks in South Block about a week ago with Ms Meera Shankar and other senior officials. Ms Shankar, India’s Ambassador-designate to Germany, is presently an Additional Secretary in the United Nations Division of the MEA which also holds charge for Disarmament and International Security Affairs.

This was the third round of talks between the NSG and India. During the talks, India expressed concern regarding two things: the clandestine nuclear proliferation and the continued denial to India of dual-use technology for peaceful uses.

The NSG’s clearance to India is the need of the hour for the Indian diplomatic and strategic establishment. This is because India is presently facing an acute shortage of enriched uranium for its nuclear plants and India cannot import it till the NSG clears such imports.

Russia has been pitching for India’s inclusion in the NSG as a non-NSG member country, a move which has support from France as well. Significantly, the US is resuming construction of nuclear power plants after a gap of three decades. All these countries look upon India as a major market for nuclear energy and it will be in their interest if India gets access to the hitherto-forbidden areas of nuclear technology.

The NSG consists of 30 nuclear suppliers and seeks to control exports of nuclear materials, equipment and technology, both dual-use and specially designed and prepared.

The US views observance of the NSG guidelines by these states as an important means of stemming the flow of nuclear materials and technologies.

In 1992, spurred on by revelations about Iraq’s illicit nuclear weapons programme, the NSG adopted controls on nuclear-related dual-use goods, for example those with both nuclear and non-nuclear applications, that could make a major contribution to unsafeguarded nuclear activities or to nuclear explosive activities.

The NSG Dual-Use Guidelines prohibit the transfer of controlled items for use in a non-nuclear weapon state in a nuclear explosive activity or an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel-cycle activity, or when there is an unacceptable risk of diversion to such an activity.

This dual-use control list includes materials, equipment and technology that can be used both for nuclear weapons and fuel-cycle activities and for other non-nuclear purposes.


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