India hopes to join top nuclear clubs
New Delhi: Against the backdrop of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) tightening regulations for the export of sensitive technologies, India has underlined its "impeccable non-proliferation record" and hopes to join the elite nuclear clubs that control the global flow of atomic material and equipment.
"Over the recent years, our Civil Nuclear Initiative has resulted in international civil nuclear energy cooperation with various international partners, including the US, France, UK, Russia, Canada, etc," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said Monday in a speech titled "Key Priorities for India's Foreign Policy" at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based think tank.
"This has reflected recognition of India's impeccable non-proliferation record and its contributions to global non-proliferation objectives," she said.
Rao also focused on India's "strict and effective controls over the export of sensitive items in line with the best international standards".
Rao renewed a pitch for India's bid to multilateral atomic regimes like the NSG, the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.
"India has expressed interest in the full membership of the four multilateral export control regimes which we believe will be mutually beneficial," she said.
"We are engaged with the regimes and regime members and hope to make progress in that direction with the support of our partners, including the UK," Rao added.
The 46-nation NSG met in the Netherlands last week and "agreed to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies." The nuclear cartel discussed the NSG relationship with India and considered "all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India".
The new guidelines have caused much disquiet in India, with some seeing in it a move to question the "clean waiver" granted by the NSG to India in September 2008 that re-opened the doors of global nuclear commerce for New Delhi after a gap of over three decades.
In the wake of these controversial guidelines, the government has made it clear that any "unilateral" decision by the NSG cannot supersede the clean waiver granted to India by the group and the India-specific arrangement it worked out in 2008.
India has also reached out to key NSG countries like the US, France and Russia, with whom it has signed bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreements and hopes that these countries will abide by their obligations to implement full civilian nuclear cooperation as envisaged in the bilateral pacts.
The US has assured that the new NSG guidelines will not impact its commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation under the 123 agreement it has signed with India.
Rao also reiterated New Delhi's commitment to the goal of global, universal and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament and said that India was willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue among all states possessing nuclear weapons to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines.
India supports negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament towards a universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable FMCT (Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty) that bans the future production of fissile materials for weapons purposes, she said.
Alluding to Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, Rao said India was undertaking a technical review of safety of its plants and strengthening the safety regulatory framework.