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India not to accept NSG waiver if ‘red lines’ are crossed: Narayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
India is not averse to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) making certain suggestions at its meeting on September 6 “as long as they are not laid down as conditions”.

The NSG had sought the redrafting of the waiver petition presented by the USA on behalf of India in the last meeting of the NSG held earlier this month to enable India to purchase from the world market nuclear material and plants for its civilian nuclear energy requirements.

The group is scheduled to sit again in Vienna on September 6 and the USA is expected to submit a fresh draft to address the concerns of some of the nations like Austria and New Zealand.

But in India, concerns have already been raised that there might be an attempt to force India to agree to writing off any claims on any further right to conduct nuclear tests.

Karan Thapar spoke to national security adviser M.K. Narayanan for his programme “Devil’s Advocate” for the CNN-IBN, to be telecast on Sunday on this issue.

In reply to Thapar’s question, the NSA said, “It is the chairman's prerogative to make of what he says and what he likes, but as long as they are not laid down as conditions, we have talked in terms of a clean exemption, an unconditional exemption. We have not said that there should be no whisper about what anybody wishes to say.”

But he underlined the extent to which India could be accommodative of the concerns raised by the NSG members. He said, “What we are asking is that there are certain issues which have been drawn in red lines by us because those are the commitments which have been made by our Prime Minister.”

“On those red lines we can't because that we have told Parliament. These are sacrosanct. If these are not met, we cannot endorse the agreement.”

He elaborated, “Testing is a word that we find difficult to adjust with. Not because of anything else but because Parliament has mandated us to do so. Testing would be difficult for us. So, we will find ways around it.”

Narayanan said, “Whatever we finally agree to with the NSG will be something we can sell to Parliament.”

Speaking realistically of India’s expectations and apprehensions, Narayanan said, “I think we have a good idea after the discussions - which took place in Vienna for the India-specific safeguards agreement - (as to) where many countries stood vis-a-vis India on this question. In the first round, I think many of the concerns were suitably dealt with, (but) some still remain. I think our problem with the NSG is primarily that we are not members of the NSG and, therefore, we have to depend entirely on other countries to put forward our case. But I must say that countries like the United States, Russia, France, the UK and a number of others have put in Herculean efforts and I think we are nearing the goal.”

”It is really a question of convincing them that India with its impeccable record of non-proliferation has always stood - if necessary - for the universal nuclear disarmament (and) is the right candidate for universal nuclear commerce.”

Offering sops to the countries objecting to nuclear commerce with India, Narayanan said, “If any country does not wish to give us enrichment and reprocessing technologies and still wishes to have nuclear commerce, we’ll draw up our guidelines according to that. What we don’t want is each country’s individual predilections forming a huge package of items in the NSG exemptions.”

He commended the US for its efforts in this direction and said, “I personally think that tremendous effort has been made by the USA to help us in this matter as have countries like France, Russia and others, where they could have done even more,” but added “Frankly speaking, I have no complains to make.”



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