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Chinese no longer whispering on deal

The Chinese don’t like the Indo-US nuclear deal. And they made their dislike apparent through a commentary published in People’s Daily, the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party. Amit Baruah reports.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2008 00:01 IST
Amit Baruah

The Chinese don’t like the Indo-US nuclear deal. And they made their dislike apparent through a commentary published on Monday in People’s Daily, the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party.

Though the Chinese representative did not propose any amendments to an American draft circulated at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting on August 21-22 in Vienna, Beijing has now shown its hand.

Accusing the US of adopting “multiple standards” on the issue of non-proliferation, the People’s Daily points out that there is no mandatory requirement of assessing India’s compliance with NSG exemption provisions in the nuclear deal document.

India, of course, is still hoping that the Chinese position would not amount to actively opposing a consensus at the NSG.

“They are, of course, sending a signal to other countries that are opposing the waiver for India. That it’s okay for them to continue opposing the waiver,” a senior official said.

Like others, the People’s Daily believes that the passage of the revised draft through a second set of NSG meetings on September 4-5 in Vienna remains uncertain. In this respect, Indian diplomats privately agree.

“It’s touch and go,” one of them said about might happen at the NSG meeting on Thursday and Friday.

The smaller countries want more from India on non-proliferation issues.

The diplomats also said that while the US was active in lobbying for the waiver, the clout of the Bush administration was running low.

Also, mounting too much pressure on smaller countries like New Zealand,

Austria and Ireland, could actually prove counter-productive to India.

There’s little doubt that if the waiver process at the NSG is not concluded before September 8, when the last session of the US Congress begins, the next steps in the nuclear deal will not be over this year. Even now, the Congressional calendar is quite complicated.

With both US presidential candidates – Barack Obama and John McCain committed to the deal – this process is far from dead. But there could be more uncertainty and booby-traps ahead given that India, too, is headed for elections in the next few months.