India may win Vienna test
Vienna, September 4
"We are close to a consensus. There may be a statement for the press tomorrow," a western diplomat, who refused to be identified either by name or country, said after the delegates considered a revised US draft waiver at the conclusion of the second session of the opening day of the two-day meeting.
The draft waiver included provisions like the NSG Chair informing the nuclear club about India's adherence to its guidelines after holding consultations with the country, a move aimed at pacifying countries having reservations.
Asked about the countries that have raised questions and expressed reservations over a clean waiver, the diplomat said they are positive and flexible.
A number of countries like New Zealand, Austria, Norway, Ireland, The Netherlands and Switzerland were not satisfied with the present draft even as the US pushed for a consensus by projecting the waiver as a "historic opportunity" to bring the largest democracy and one of the biggest economies into the global nuclear mainstream.
"I believe we are making steady progress in this process and we will continue to make progress," US under secretary of state William Burns told reporters at the end of the first round.
One diplomat said there could be minor changes in the draft waiver but it is not clear whether there would be conditionalities in the waiver.
Diplomats are expected to informally hammer out an acceptable formulation in the night which can be brought to the table tomorrow. Some of them were confident of a breakthrough without the NSG having to meet for the third time to consider the revised American draft.
The first session lasted three hours before the delegates broke for an extended lunch-break during which delegates of sceptic countries were seen holding informal parleys. The second session was a brief affair.
The first day of the crucial meeting saw sceptic countries demand a commitment in the draft that nuclear cooperation will end if India conducts a nuclear test and favoured denial of enrichment and reprocessing rights to New Delhi.
The revised draft was prepared by the US in consultation with India after at least 15 countries sought amendments in the original text during the last NSG meeting on August 21-22. — PTI