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India to take up nuclear issue during Clinton visit

india Updated: Jul 11, 2009 19:26 IST

India is concerned over the G8 declaration "to curb transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology", which can undermine the "clean" waiver it has obtained from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and plans to take this up during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit in New Delhi later this month.

The G8 declaration adopted at the L'Aquila summit in Italy commits the world's most developed eight countries, which are also members of the NSG, to ban the transfer of ENR items to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

"To reduce the proliferation risks associated with the spread of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, equipment and technology, we welcome the progress that continues to be made by the NSG on mechanisms to strengthen controls on transfers of such enrichment and reprocessing items and technology," the G8 declaration said on Friday.

The declaration, however, commits these countries to implement on a "national basis" the "useful and constructive proposals" on ways of strengthening controls on ENR items and technology "contained in the NSG's ?clean text' developed at the 20 November 2008 Consultative Group meeting".

The declaration at the end of the G8 summit, which was also attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also called upon all countries to sign the NPT while deciding to step up efforts for a swift conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The message, according to observers, was aimed at India - the only NPT holdout at the summit.

The G8 position on ENR technolgy has taken the Indian government by surpirse as such a ban negates the spirit of the NSG waiver.

The waiver was seen as a triumph of Indian diplomacy with Indian officials emphasising that New Delhi managed to get a "clean and full" waiver from the NSG amid formidable opposition from some of its members.

However, reliable sources close to the government told IANS that New Delhi is not unduly worried as it will go by the NSG waiver, which they insisted was "clean", and the teral India-US 123 agreement that governs nuclear trade between the two countries.

The 123 agreement envisages India setting up a dedicated reprocessing facility under international safeguards for which the US was ready to supply the necessary ENR technology.

India's access to ENR transfer was a major sticking point between India and the US, but a breakthoguh was achieved in the last stages of negotations with Washington agreeing to New Delhi's demand for full civil nuclear cooperation, though on condition that a separate agreement will be required to facilitate the transfer of ENR.

"We will go by the NSG waiver and the 123 agreement. Anyhthing else is extraneous," the sources said.

The issue will figure in Clinton's discussions with Indian leaders in New Delhi. Civil nuclear cooperation will figure prominenly in the discussions, the sources said.

The NSG, the global grouping that controls international nuclear trade, made an exception for India, a non-signatory to the NPT, Sep 6, 2008 by rewriting its rules to allow the nuclear suppliers to resume civil nuclear business with New Delhi after a gap of 34 years.

With India insisting on "clean and unconditional waiver", including its right of access to ENR technolgies, the NSG, while granting the waiver, had stated that "participating governments may transfer nuclear-related dual-use equipment, materials, software and related technology to India for peaceful purposes and for use in IAEA safeguarded civil nuclear facilities".