Beijing may back New Delhi’s case at the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) when it discusses allowing India into nuclear trade, an official release said on Wednesday.
The diplomatic breakthrough came during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the India-Asean Summit on Wednesday. Wen indicated that Beijing may also be interested in nuclear commerce with India.
“Premier Wen was forthcoming and supportive of international civil nuclear energy cooperation with India,” the release issued by India said.
However, nuclear trade with China, or for that matter with the US, Russia or France, will only be possible if India has an agreement in place with the International Atomic Energy Agency and an exemption from the NSG.
China — a key member of the NSG whose support is vital for India to enter nuclear commerce — had hardened its stand after New Delhi’s 1998 nuclear tests.
The positive signs in Singapore came on a day when crucial talks began in Vienna between Atomic Energy Commission chief Dr Anil Kakodkar and the IAEA chief El Baradei to negotiate an India specific safeguards agreement. The NSG will subsequently consider exempting India from its restrictive guidelines on nuclear trade outside the 45-member grouping.
This will set the ball rolling for operationalising the India-US civil nuclear agreement and allow New Delhi to buy reactors and fuel for the first time in three decades.