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US proposes to waive nuclear ban on India

US proposes to waive nuclear ban on India
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First Published: Thu, Aug 14 2008. 10 45 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Aug 14 2008. 10 45 PM IST
Vienna: The US has proposed waiving a ban on critical nuclear trade with India in a draft circulated among members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and unveiled by an arms control advocacy group.
The draft, published on the website of the US-based Arms Control Association (www.armscontrol.org) late on Wednesday, would effectively lift a 34-year embargo on nuclear trade with India without tying it to explicit conditions.
A green light by the 45-nation NSG, which operates by consensus, is necessary for the 2005 US-India deal on nuclear trade to proceed to US Congress for final ratification.
If approved, the deal would let India trade across world markets in nuclear fuel and technology for civilian use.
The NSG meets in Vienna next week to discuss the draft but is not expected to reach a consensus immediately, due to concerns from several member states. A second meeting is likely to follow in early September, diplomats said.
Several NSG nations are unlikely to approve an exemption unless it makes clear certain events—such as India testing a bomb or not allowing inspections at its nuclear facilities—would trigger a review.
The draft states the NSG members “have taken note of steps that India has taken voluntarily”, including its unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests and its commitment to allow inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog. But it does not mention any consequences in case India were not to adhere to those measures.
The draft falls short of demands stipulated in the US legislation regarding the US-India deal—known as the Hyde Act—which requires permanent, unconditional inspections in India and says trade must stop if it tests another atom bomb.
The Indian government did not make an official comment, but a foreign ministry official said they were happy with the draft circulated to NSG members. “We are hopeful the deal will make it to US Congress by 8 September,” the official said.
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First Published: Thu, Aug 14 2008. 10 45 PM IST