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Life after NSG

india Updated: Sep 08, 2008 00:22 IST
Amit Baruah
Amit Baruah
Hindustan Times

At the end of the day, the phraseology used isn't that important. The waiver the NSG granted India is. For instance, just as there is no definition of "corrective measures" in the India-IAEA safeguards agreement of August 1, there is deliberate ambiguity in the language used in the waiver granted on Saturday too. It had to be that way. Or else, there could not have been an agreement.

The waiver text makes it clear that exemption is being granted on the basis of India's commitments on non-proliferation as articulated by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his September 5 statement. It also says the waiver is “without prejudice to national positions”, phraseology that helped Ireland, Austria and New Zealand - which had been holding out - join Saturday's consensus decision.

Given that the NSG has taken a collective view on an India waiver, such language is, clearly, at variance with the rest of the text.

The fact is that whatever may or may not be written on paper, the world will come crashing down on India should it go in for another nuclear test of its own. The world is not going to accept any nuclear test by India, senior officials concede.

But the fact also is that India has no plans to test another nuclear device. Its strategic nuclear deterrent does not require further testing.

If, in the future, countries like the US or China test, then an Indian nuclear test would be seen in "context". India might then have a chance of escaping sanctions.

Though supplier nations in the NSG will develop vested interests through the sale of billions of dollars worth of reactors, this is an informal club that always has the sovereign right to overturn its own decisions. But India has no need to be worried. It has embarked on a new journey, and as NSG diplomats put it to this writer, the phase of confrontation had ended, and they were now interested in cooperating with India.