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NSG to meet on Thursday

world Updated: Sep 03, 2008 10:24 IST
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Amid continued reservations of some member countries over granting waiver to India, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will hold a crucial two-day meeting in Vienna from Thursday to consider the initiative.

The NSG will consider a draft which is being presented before the 45-nation grouping after amendments following demands by at least 15 countries during the August 21-22 meeting.

Countries like New Zealand and Austria, which are still not satisfied with the revised draft, are expected to voice their concerns over non-proliferation issues.

On studying the draft circulated to them by Germany, the current Chair of the NSG, these countries feel that the amendments in the text are only cosmetic in nature and conditions are not attached.

China, too, appeared on Monday to be joining the sceptic countries when its Communist Party's mouthpiece 'People's Daily' described the Indo-US nuclear deal as a "blow" to non-proliferation.

However, the Chinese Government yesterday indicated that it will not block the initiative.
India, on the other hand, has maintained that if conditions are attached to the waiver, it could walk away.

India and the US are hoping that the 45-nation grouping would have a consensus on giving the exemption at this meeting to enable the American Congress some time to have a final vote on the nuclear deal.

The NSG works by consensus and even if one country opposes the waiver, the move will be scuttled.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, who is in the US, will travel directly to Vienna. He will be joined by R B Grover, Director, Strategic Affairs in the Department of Atomic Energy, and some other officials of the MEA.

Though India is not a member of the NSG, the delegation led by Menon will be camping in Vienna to meet envoys of the NSG countries, if necessary, to make further efforts to persuade them.

Indian officials said that while all efforts will be made to allay the apprehensions of the sceptic countries, India will not accept the waiver if it is laden with conditions.

India says the revised draft should be able to address the apprehensions that some of the countries have.
New Delhi maintains that if any country has any non-proliferation issues, those can be sorted out with them when bilateral agreements are signed.

A day after the editorial in Chinese People's Daily increased anxiety over the fate of the waiver, Beijing expressed hope that the NSG would be able to "strike a balance between nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful use" of atomic energy.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said Beijing has always played a "positive role" at the meetings of the NSG as it believes all countries have the right to develop nuclear energy while observing the obligations of the non-proliferation regime.

China expects the "relevant countries" would be able to "safeguard the effectiveness of the international non-proliferation regime," Jiang said without specifically naming India and the US in this context.