Vienna: Forty-five countries considering lifting a ban on nuclear trade with India welcomed an Indian pledge on Friday to honour non-proliferation pacts it has not signed, but some felt it did not go far enough, diplomats said. A meeting held on Friday remained inconclusive.
India, hoping the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will clear the way for a controversial US-India atomic energy deal to take effect, said it rejected any nuclear arms race and reaffirmed a voluntary moratorium on atomic bomb tests.
An Indian foreign ministry statement also said India endorsed strict NSG rules against the spread of nuclear weapons, backed global nuclear disarmament objectives and aimed to institute broader UN inspections of its nuclear facilities.
India spoke up in support of US efforts to push through a one-off waiver of NSG rules to do business with India even though it has shunned treaties against production and testing of nuclear arms and mandating their gradual phase-out.
If Washington cannot secure an NSG exemption within days, the US Congress may run out of time to ratify the deal before it adjourns at the end of September for elections, relegating the matter to an uncertain fate under a new president.
Decisions by the nuclear trade cartel must be unanimous. NSG states praised New Delhi’s gesture on Friday as an important, timely step forward, diplomats said.
John Rood, the acting US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said India’s statement had lent “positive momentum” to efforts to hammer out an NSG waiver.
“On (that) basis the US remains committed to the objective of achieving consensus and optimistic about achieving that goal,” Rood told reporters. He, however, declined to take questions.
But some diplomats and analysts noted India’s statement repeated known positions and did not fully allay fears for the integrity of the global Non-proliferation Treaty.
Diplomats said a waiver deal still looked elusive and another session later in September might be needed.