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India pleased yet guarded on nuke group's stand

Indian officials noted with satisfaction the statement issued by the Nuclear Suppliers' Group on the prospect of civil nuclear cooperation with it but were wary about the stance taken by the 46-member body on the proposed China-Pakistan nuclear deal.

delhi Updated: Jun 26, 2010 11:50 IST

Indian officials noted with satisfaction the statement issued by the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) on the prospect of civil nuclear cooperation with it but were wary about the stance taken by the 46-member body on the proposed China-Pakistan nuclear deal.

Indian officials, who were closely watching the developments of the June 21-25 meeting of NSG, said these were largely to New Delhi's satisfaction.

"The group continued to consider the implementation of the statement on civil nuclear cooperation with India. It noted actions taken to adhere to the NSG guidelines and the voluntary commitments made by India," said the statement issued at Christchurst, New Zealand.

At the same time, as per top officials, India remains on guard over the response of the NSG on the Chinese proposal to give two additional nuclear reactors to Pakistan. Beijing has already said this proposal is in continuation of a deal struck with Islamabad in 2004 when it was not a member of the NSG.

"The group took note of briefings on developments concerning non-NSG states. It agreed on the value of ongoing consultation and transparency," said the NSG's public statement.

The lack of direct reference to the proposed China-Pakistan deal has become the cause for some anxiety, though officials felt that the reference to strengthening guidelines regarding transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies was an oblique reference to the Beijing-Islamabad axis.

"Participating governments agreed to continue considering ways to further strengthen guidelines dealing with the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies," the Christchurch statement said.

"At the moment, the position is clear. No NSG member can sell reactors to any country that is not a signatory to the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty)," the official, well versed with India's stand on strategic affairs, said.

"India is the only exception. But we can only watch and observe what they (NSG) do. We are not a part of NSG."

The matter, according to officials, could also come up during the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper after the G-20 meeting in Toronto Sunday.

India and Canada are set to conclude a far-reaching civilian nuclear deal, on the lines New Delhi has with Washington, Paris, Moscow and some other countries.

The official was reacting to what possible position India intended to take on the proposal for two additional nuclear reactors for Pakistan from China in addition to the Chashma I and II plants. Chashma I went critical in 2000 and Chashma II is due to begin operations in 2011. China claims the additional reactors are a follow on to these two. It says it does not need NSG approval as the agreement for the first two reactors were inked before China joined the NSG.