New Delhi: A relieved India on Saturday hailed the NSG waiver lifting the nuclear trade embargo as landmark and historic with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing it as a “forward looking and momentous decision”.
After facing anxious moments, government was euphoric with senior ministers, foreign policy mandarins and the top brass of the nuclear establishment terming the unprecedented decision as a “unique development”.
The Prime Minister came in for wholesome praise from US President George W Bush for his “strong leadership” in ensuring success at the NSG meet in Vienna. The two leaders congratulated each other for the consensus at the NSG and expressed appreciation for the joint efforts made there to move forward with Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation.
The NSG decision to “adjust its guidelines” marked the end of India’s over three decades-long isolation from the nuclear mainstream and of technology denial regime, Singh said in a statement.
Thanking the US and other member countries for the role they have played in the waiver, Singh said it is a recognition of India’s impeccable non-proliferation credentials and its status as a state with advanced nuclear technology.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the decision will open a new chapter in India’s cooperation with other countries in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
“The NSG waiver is a unique development that has been achieved in accordance with commitments given to Parliament and the people of India and is consistent with India’s national interest,” he said.
Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission said, “Today is an important day as we have achieved a major breakthrough” and termed the waiver as “unique” as it will open the doors for the country to take part in international civil nuclear commerce after 34 years of isolation.
Kakodkar said India’s ”legal” right to conduct nuclear tests has been fully preserved and the country has not made any commitment in this regard to gain the waiver from the NSG to participate in nuclear commerce.
“There is no explicit mention of (nuclear) testing (in the NSG waiver),” he told reporters here making it clear that the exemption granted to India by the 45-nation cartel met all requirements of the Department of Atomic Energy.
“We have made no legal commitment (on nuclear tests),” Kakodkar said underlining that India has already made a unilateral, voluntary moratorium on conducting atomic tests.
Foreign secretary Shiv Shanker Menon said US took the lead to help clinch the crucial NSG waiver. He thanked all the countries for supporting the US draft.
“I think our common interest with the rest of the world resuming civil nuclear cooperation has a contribution to energy security, climate change... all that worked,” he said.
National security advisor M K Narayanan said government was a little surprised about Chinese approach at the NSG meet. The Chinese leadership had assured the Prime Minister that they would never be part of the problem and never create difficulties for us, he said.
“I wont say they raised objections on their own but they went along and seemed to support the objections raised by other countries who had ideological and other concerns,” he said.