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Monday, 8 September 2008

NSG waiver to India-A breakthrough, says Kakodkar

CHENNAI: Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Anil Kakodkar has described the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s (NSG) waiver to India as “an acceptable arrangement which meets our requirements.” In an interview from Mumbai on Sunday, he called the waiver “a breakthrough.”

Asked whether the waiver had any bar on India conducting nuclear tests, he said, “The point is our legal rights [to conduct nuclear tests] have been preserved. If you test, there will be reactions. But we have preserved our legal rights [to conduct a nuclear test].”

In what way the waiver is a breakthrough? He replied that first it opened up international civil nuclear commerce for the country. Second, India had so far faced embargo regimes in accessing nuclear reactors and technology from other countries. (The embargoes would be lifted). “There is now the recognition that India, on the civilian nuclear side, can deal with the international community; and on the strategic side, we can maintain our strategic programmes. In terms of recognition, it is a breakthrough,” he said. Third, the waiver would “very significantly contribute to India’s nuclear power growth.”

While the domestic nuclear power programme would continue, the country needed a larger programme to meet its electricity needs and the waiver would certainly help.

To a query whether the nation received “a clean and unconditional waiver,” which he always insisted on, he said, “There are no new conditions.” When the question was repeated, he asserted: “The point is that on substantive issues; it is consistent with what we were looking for. There are no new conditions.”

Will the waiver lift the ban on India receiving enrichment and reprocessing technologies from other countries?

“The NSG has policies and guidelines on export of enrichment and reprocessing technologies. There is no specific targeting of India.” The entire exercise was about granting exemptions to India to have civil nuclear commerce with other countries. “I m glad it worked out ultimately,” he said.

Asked whether he was disappointed with China’s attitude at the NSG meet in Vienna, he said, “We would have certainly expected a more positive approach [from China]. Ultimately, the question is we have to take into account all kinds of …their policies.”

On the former AEC Chairman, P.K. Iyengar’s observation that countries such as Austria, Ireland and New Zealand, which strongly objected to the waiver, were not supplier countries at all, he said countries had their own policies and debates were natural. That was where negotiations took place.

Source : The Hindu - T.S. Subramanian

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