2-Day NSG Meet begins today

The world’s most severely brahminical cartel, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), gathers on Thursday morning to decide whether to let the Indian adventurer through its hallowed portals. For India, this is the moment negotiators have been working towards for the past three years. Through a web of negotiations and agreements India is asking for one thing: to be able to keep both civilian and military nuclear programmes without signing the NPT or safeguarding all its nuclear facilities.It’s fitting that the nuclear deal should end up at the NSG — a club that was formed in 1975 as a response to India’s nuclear tests in 1974, as a way of preventing other countries from using dual use technology for military purposes.Their “guidelines” first issued in 1993 helped cement the system that kept India out of dual-use technology and nuclear commerce. They said a country would have to put its entire nuclear facilities under “fullscope” safeguards to qualify. It’s this system India, sponsored by the US, wants to change.India wants a waiver that is no different from the draft made by the US, in other words, no amendments. That “waiver” will not be easily won, however. The world is unlikely to stand by and watch India rewrite the rules of global nuclear commerce.

Curtain goes up on 2-day NSG meeting at Vienna. On the table: should the ban on nuclear trade be lifted? If NSG says yes, one more hurdle left – the US vote – for Indo-US N-deal to be sealed Of 45 NSG members, 38 in favour of lifting the ban. 7 (Austria, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, Netherlands & New Zealand) have reservations. All 7 big on non-proliferation, feel India should sign NPT to get NSG’s nod .US piloting India proposal, trying to convince naysayers. India has sent a crack team that includes foreign secy Shiv Shankar Menon and PM's special envoy Shyam Saran to lobby NSG members .If there's no consensus, NSG will meet on Sept 2 NSG waiver may hinge on Austria, NZ liferation, has the right of peaceful use of nuclear energy and to carry out international cooperation in this regard.” On the other hand, take New Zealand. Wellington has strong non-proliferation objections and intends to pursue them fully. But the India-New Zealand relationship is looking up, so it will be a political call. It will be difficult, because non-proliferation is a big deal politically down there, and it is due for elections in November. New Zealand is equally unique, despite having a military alliance with the US, it does not allow US warships in its waters because the US refuses to specify which one is carrying a nuclear weapon. Then there is Austria, which is refusing to discuss the deal. Austria has no love lost for nuclear energy and is an ayatollah into the bargain. Netherlands is in the middle of vacations and a strong socialist presence in their parliament is making things difficult for them. The Swiss envoy here, Dominique Dreyer, said over the weekend, “Switzerland is in favour of India developing its civilian nuclear energy. Switzerland depends on nuclear power for 30% of its energy needs... Increasingly, there is a realisation that the world has to depend on nuclear energy if they have to solve the problem of global warming. Europe is also realising it.” The Irish government is not pleased at all, and after they thumbed their noses at the EU Treaty, anything can happen. Yet, indications are that they might not oppose outright at the NSG, because they too are looking at the deal in a more “holistic” light. All of these countries are looking to put in “conditions” into the exemption that include a bar on enrichment and reprocessing technology, a call to cease cooperation if India tests a weapon and a review of the India case. India will reject all of them. In addition, India has demanded that it be part of all decisions made by the NSG in future until it becomes a fully-paid up member. India says it is unique. It’s performance in proliferation matters is better that many NPT member states. It will not sign the NPT because it’s not a non-nuclear weapons state, and that’s the only kind of signature that’s open. It has a robust strategic — read military — nuclear weapons programme, and no matter what, India’s not about to give that up.

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