M A I N   N E W S

Nuke-deal: Beijing cools down
Anil K. Joseph

Beijing, December 13
In a significant development, China today signalled easing of its strident opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal, saying cooperation in use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes will be “beneficial” for maintaining effectiveness of global non-proliferation efforts.

“We consider the cooperation between countries to use nuclear energy for peaceful purpose will be beneficial to maintain the principles and effectiveness of international nuclear non-proliferation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said when asked to comment on the US Congress’ overwhelming approval of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal last week.

Mr Qin’s comment assumes significance since the official Chinese media had voiced sharp opposition to the deal, saying it would undermine global non-proliferation efforts.

When asked to comment on the possibility of Sino-Indian cooperation in the nuclear energy sector, Mr Qin said Beijing had indicated its stance in the joint declaration signed during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s maiden state visit to India in November.

“Considering that for both India and China, expansion of civilian nuclear energy programme is an essential and important component of their national energy plans to ensure energy security, the two sides agree to promote cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, consistent with their respective international commitments,” says the joint statement issued on November 21.

At the same time, Mr Qin emphasised that every country had to adhere to its international commitments while engaging in bilateral or multilateral cooperation in the nuclear field.

The Chinese turnaround came two days after the official Xinhua news agency commented that US had contradicted its obligations under the NPT.

“The legislation is also in contradiction to the obligations of Washington as a lead signatory of the NPT. The treaty obligates its signatories not to provide assistance to the nuclear programmes of states that did not sign the NPT,” it said.

India needs Chinese support at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as the 45-member body has to unanimously approve the Indo-US nuclear deal. — PTI



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