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New Draft Proposal Could Pave Way for India's Entry into NSG

Washington: A new draft proposal circulated among Nuclear Suppliers Group member states early this month could pave the way for India to become a member of the elite club, but this is unlikely to happen before the end of the Obama presidency next month.

The American push for India to become a full-fledged member of the NSG would now have to be pursued by the incoming Trump Administration as the outgoing Obama Administration is unlikely to fulfill its promise made to the Modi Government before its term expires January 20, informed sources said.

A draft formula for NSG membership to countries like India and Pakistan that are not a signatory to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was submitted by Rafael Mariano Grossi, the former NSG Chair, who prepared the report on behalf of South Korea, the current NSG chair.

According to Arms Control Association (ACA), a Washington-based think-tank who has been a fierce opponent of India-US civil nuclear deal and India’s membership to NSG, the two-page draft formula proposes “nine general commitments” that non-NPT countries like India and Pakistan “would need to make” in order to receive the “fullest” atomic trading privileges.

Slamming the draft proposal for “lowering the bar”, Daryl G Kimball of ACA observed that this could pave the way for India becoming a NSG member as it already fulfills all these nine criteria outlined in the draft proposal, which was informally discussed by NSG members in Vienna this month.

Informed sources in the US Government told PTI that the current “time-line” does not ensure India’s membership under the Obama Administration, for which it had tried hard, but for the Chinese “resistance” in this regard.

As such, India’s NSG membership, an unfinished agenda of the India-US relationship of the outgoing US President would now have to be taken up by his successor Donald Trump.

While the civil nuclear deal was an initiative of a Republican Administration, George W Bush, the incoming Trump Administration has not made any public comment in this regard.

The issue is, however, believed to have come up for discussion during the initial phase of contacts that top Indian officials have established with the presidential transition team.

Revealing details of the nine-point formula for non-NPT States to become a NSG members, ACA says that interested countries should have implemented andhave brought into force a clear and strict separation of current and futurecivilian nuclear facilities from non-civilian nuclear facilities in [non-NPTapplicant] and have providedand maintain a declaration to the IAEA that identifies all current and futurecivilian nuclear facilities in [non-NPT applicant].