India steps up NSG diplomacy to counter China-Pakistan deal
The US may have come out publicly against the China-Pakistan nuclear deal, but India is not leaving anything to chance and has intensified lobbying with key members of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) ahead of the nuclear cartel's next meeting in Vienna.Updated: Jul 25, 2010 14:37 IST
The US may have come out publicly against the China-Pakistan nuclear deal, but India is not leaving anything to chance and has intensified lobbying with key members of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) ahead of the nuclear cartel's next meeting in Vienna.
India has not only zeroed in on the 'Big 4' in the NSG - the US, France, Russia and Britain - but is also reaching out to other middling NSG members to project the deal's negative impact on the global non-proliferation regime and the fragile security situation in South Asia.
The government has asked its missions in these key NSG countries to convey the pitfalls of the deal and how it is targeted against India's vital interests, sources close to the government told the news agency.
The Indian group in Track II dialogue on the India-US relations on Friday met to firm up a strategy to counter the deal at various levels, said the sources. The Track II group from the Indian side includes veteran diplomats and security experts like Naresh Chandra, former Indian ambassador to the US, and Vice Admiral (retd) P.S. Das, who is also involved with India-China Track II dialogue process.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and the joint secretaries dealing with Pakistan and with China, Y.K. Sinha and Gautam Bambawale respectively, also participated in the discussions, added the sources.
India's counter-attack strategy will revolve around three key points. First, the Chinese deal to supply two additional reactors, Chashma-3 and Chashma 4, was not "grandfathered," under an earlier arrangement as China claims. China did not disclose two additional reactors at the time of joining the NSG in 2004.
Second, Indian interlocutors will argue that there is no comparison between India's deal with the US to that of China's with Pakistan as New Delhi was granted the clean waiver on account of its widely acknowledged impeccable non-proliferation record.
Thirdly, India will contend that it's not an energy deal, but a ploy to contain New Delhi by bolstering Pakistan's capacity to produce more nuclear weapons and will highlight the alleged abuse of foreign aid by Islamabad to modernize its military machine.
The NSG is likely to meet in Vienna in September where two years ago around the same time the NSG granted a one-time clean waiver to India to resume global nuclear trade.
China's contentious deal to supply two additional nuclear reactors to Pakistan could figure in the discussions.
At the NSG's June 21-25 plenary at Christchurch, New Zealand, there was hush-hush over the deal, with only an oblique reference to "consultations and transparency" about non-NSG states.
India is surprised that some NSG members like New Zealand, Austria and Ireland, who were so critical of the India-US nuclear deal, have not voiced objections to the Sino-Pakistan deal despite Islamabad's dubious proliferation record as epitomized by its illegal A.Q. Khan network.
India's apprehension is that given China's growing global clout and its strong economic ties with virtually all influential NSG countries, the NSG may look the other way and let China go ahead with the deal which is clearly in violation of its existing guidelines, said the sources.
In a shot in the arm for India, the US recently said it will vote against China's proposed sale of two civil nuclear reactors to Pakistan when the issue comes up before the NSG.
Lalit Mansingh, a former ambassador of India to the US, warns against complacency. "It's a positive sign. But we should not take the US for granted. The Obama administration is in the middle of an economic crisis and may not want to open another front with China on the issue," Mansingh told the news agency.
Mansingh is heading to Singapore July-end to participate in the India-China-Pakistan trialogue where the deal is likely to figure.
First Published: Jul 25, 2010 14:34 IST