New Delhi: Foreign minister S.M. Krishna on Wednesday assured members of Parliament that a special exemption granted to India in 2008 by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to source atomic plants and technology from the global market won’t be affected by the 45-member group’s amendment of criteria for transfer of sensitive knowhow to countries that have not signed international non-proliferation pacts.
India was granted the waiver by the group “knowing full well that India is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT)”, Krishna said in a statement to the Lok Sabha.
The NSG exemption was part of a process that saw the removal of three-decades-old embargoes against nuclear commerce between India and the rest of the world—despite the country conducting nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998.
The waiver was pushed through by the US, with which India worked out a civil nuclear trade pact in 2008 that opened the doors for the sale of US atomic plants to the country.
The NSG, which controls global nuclear commerce, had on 24 June amended the criteria under which sophisticated technologies, including enrichment and reprocessing (ENR), will be shared—making it mandatory for recipient nations to sign the NPT.
India has since been worried that the change could hit the exception it was granted. But recent statements from the US, France and Russia have assuaged concerns, at least partially.
In his statement, Krishna cited a 23 June US state department statement that said “the (Barack) Obama Administration fully supports the clean Nuclear Suppliers Group exception for India and speedy implementation of the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. Nothing about the new Enrichment and Reprocessing (ENR) transfer restrictions agreed to by the NSG members should be construed as detracting from the unique impact and importance of the US-India Agreement or our commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation”
The US statement also says the new NSG guidelines “in no way detract from the exception granted to India,” Krishna said.
The French ambassador in New Delhi issued a communique on 5 July, saying the NSG exemption “reflects the unique situation of India and constitutes a historical achievement. Therefore, in the French view, nothing in the existing and future guidelines shall be interpreted as detracting from that exemption or reducing the ambition of our bilateral cooperation,” Krishna said, citing from the French statement.
Another assurance came from the Russian foreign ministry spokesman on 14 July, who said the NSG decision “does not affect in any way the September 2008 decision of the Group to unfreeze peaceful nuclear cooperation with India”, Krishna said.