Journalist | Writer | Analyst
19 September 2009
India yet to raise proposed ENR ban with U.S.
Despite the United States seeking to dilute the waiver India was granted from the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s export rules last year, the Manmohan Singh government is yet to protest or even formally raise the matter with Washington at any level.
India’s baffling silence has led President Barack Obama’s advisors to conclude that their attempts to re-impose an international ban on the sale of enrichment and reprocessing technology and equipment will not adversely affect bilateral relations or the prospects of American companies winning lucrative nuclear and defence contracts, a former Bush administration official involved with the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear deal told The Hindu.
The official said that when he asked the State Department about the wisdom of getting the G-8 to endorse the U.S.-proposed ban on ENR sales to India this July, he was told to keep his concerns to himself since the Indians themselves had not bothered to protest the American move.
A senior official in the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed that India did not raise the ENR issue during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Delhi, when she met both the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
“Well, I have a strategic dialogue with my counterpart, I suppose that could be one of the areas,” National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan told The Hindu, when asked about India’s reluctance to complain about continuing American attempts to dilute the NSG’s clean waiver since November 2008. “It hasn’t come up because we have a new team there, we’ll have to sit down and talk about it. I am going [to Washington] in October, I suppose I’ll take it up.”
The Indian leadership’s unwillingness to raise the issue meant Ms. Clinton’s advisers never bothered to brief her properly on the prickly topic. Which helps explains her blunder during a Delhi press conference. As long as ENR transfers to India were safeguarded, she said, the U.S. would regard these as “appropriate.”
But the State Department later clarified that the Secretary of State had wrongly represented the American position and that it was very much the U.S. policy to seek multilateral restrictions on the transfer of ENR items to countries like India, a stand that flies in the face of the letter and spirit of the July 2005 Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement.