After IAEA green signal, eyes on NSG
Taking a massive leap forward India eventually emerged out victorious at the meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which adopted the Indian specific safeguards agreement by all consensus. India’s successful win over the first major hurdle amid oppositions by some of the countries-member and non-member of IAEA- has imparted it confidence hoping to get nod of the biggest obstacle, the accord of 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group. But, the signals coming in from all over the world pointing towards India’s way- not very tough.
The consensus of IAEA would now facilitate India to avail the sensitive nuclear material, fuel and technology without signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Without IAEA safeguards, India could not import nuclear technology from NSG nations, comprising the United States. Now, with the IAEA’s approval India’s 14 off 22 nuclear reactors will come under the supervision of United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, IAEA.
None of the 19 NSG countries, who are also the member of the IAEA, spoke against granting an exemption to India. However, it is believed that degree of oppositions could boil down with the demand advocating to attach more conditions.
The most vocal to the opposition of the deal, Australia, too, has softened its stand. Australia was opposing the deal owing to India not a signatory to the NPT. The IAEA’s approval for India is a remarkable one as it is done in the presence of Pakistan and China- the all time adverse advocacy of the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Indian think tank doubts that opposition by China, Pakistan and some of the European countries could make the going tough for India at the NSG--first and foremost option that they could place may keep them aloof from engaging in nuclear commerce with India.
Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, China, New Zealand, and Ireland were in opposition to the nuclear pact with saying: “one-off exception for India is not justified.” without signing NPT and CTBT, the safeguard agreement undermines the purpose of NPT.
Pakistan, who preferred not to press for a vote said that the NSG should adopt a criteria-based approach as opposed to the India-specific route that western nations have sought to take vis-à-vis New Delhi. It said the deal would be heading towards creating strategic imbalance in region. Pakistan, a strong opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal, as it wanted the same agreement for it too, preferred not to be critical only under US pressure.
The most surprising remarks came from Iran, which took special permission to speak as it was not a member of IAEA board, said, “double standard” on the part of U.S. It said the agreement was only a precedent for legitimizing Israel’s “clandestine nuclear programme.”
Egypt and Malaysia, another non-NSG countries who stood up against the deal, said, “the deal is unfair to non nuclear weapon states who signed NPT. Countries like Brazil, Japan, Norway and some others wanted India to sign the NPT and CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty).
However, the agreement got the full endorsement from countries like UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Russia, Algeria and Chile. Other countries namely Ecuador, Ghana, Morroco, Thailand and Bolivia also advocated the deal.
The meeting commenced at 10:40 lasted for 5 hours. It started with the IAEA Director-General Mohammad ElBaradei’s address to the nations speaking in defence of the agreement. He said: “It satisfies India’s needs while maintaining the entire Agency’s legal requirements.” after the meeting got over, Dr. Baradei expressed hope that the agreement would also be certified by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
The 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group will now hold meeting to consider special exemption for India as it’s not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The US Congress would then go for the ratification of the nuclear pact prior to the President Bush’s term, which comes to an end in Jan 2009.
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