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Nuclear Suppliers Group approves Indian exemption

7 September 2008

Nuclear Suppliers Group approves Indian exemption

After three days of protracted negotiations in Vienna, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has approved an exemption to its guidelines which permits civil nuclear commerce with India.

The exemption was needed for the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement to come into force, subject to Congressional approval, because India is not a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"New Zealand and like-minded countries such as Ireland and Austria sought to ensure that allowing the exemption to proceed would have a net positive benefit for non-proliferation," Phil Goff said.

"We acknowledged from the start that the exemption offered some positive advantages bringing India's civil nuclear industry under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. We also acknowledged that while we opposed India's possession and testing of nuclear weapons, consistent with our stand against nuclear weapons, India has not since been involved in proliferation of weapons technology or materials to other countries.

"However, New Zealand had particular concerns it wanted to be addressed. This included action to be taken in the event of the resumption of nuclear testing and the question of the transfer of sensitive technologies related to enrichment and reprocessing. New Zealand also wanted India to sign up to the IAEA's Additional Protocol, which extends that body's powers of monitoring and inspection. It also sought review provisions for the exemption," Phil Goff said.

"The concerns were addressed to a significant degree by India in a formal statement. India has reiterated its commitment to a voluntary unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. It has indicated support for international efforts to limit the spread of enrichment and reprocessing and pledged it will not be the source of such proliferation.

"It has committed itself to sign and adhere to the Additional Protocol with respect to India's civil nuclear facilities.

"These undertakings are referenced in the NSG statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India, which also notes constraints on transfer of sensitive exports. It makes provision for reviewing the exemption and for countries to raise any concerns about how the exemption is operating," Phil Goff said.

"New Zealand, along with others at the NSG, pressed for the strongest possible safeguards to be written into the exemption. In the end we accepted the consensus reached. In doing so, New Zealand noted that the NSG would need to be vigilant in implementing the exemption in order to realise the Non-Proliferation benefits and indicated that it would be monitoring that process closely," Phil Goff said.


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