New Delhi: The 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group is likely to have two meetings – one on August 21 and another in early September – to decide whether to lift the ban to trade with India on civil nuclear energy.
A draft to make this happen has been prepared by the Americans. But there are provisions in it that have to be acceptable to India as well as other NSG members. It is likely to be finalised and circulated among members of the NSG by next week.
Informed sources said that many members of the NSG had sought time for "consultations" before announcing their decision. The first meeting will be held in Vienna.
"The two meetings will give the NSG members a chance to consult their respective governments on what stand they must take on the proposed waiver for India," sources in the ministry of external affairs told IANS.
Once India gets the waiver from the NSG, it can breathe a little easy as the US Congress, which regroups in September, will then give its final approval on the India-US nuclear deal.
As the focus shifts to the forthcoming meetings of the NSG, the Indian establishment is also trying to make a realistic assessment on the stand of individual members on this crucial issue.
"No one expects the NSG to be a cakewalk," a source in the ministry said. "But we are hoping for the best."
The NSG does not have nuclear trade with any country that has not yet signed the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. India, Israel and Pakistan are the only three countries that are yet to sign the NPT.
But New Delhi feels that because of its excellent track record on non-proliferation and its serious commitment to disarmament, NSG members will end up supporting the proposed waiver.
As of now, India is assured of support from 20 members in the NSG. There are 20 others who are sceptical about supporting the move to lift the ban in favour of India but can be persuaded to back the move.
However, there are still five countries which are still holding out in making any concession to New Delhi. Senior diplomats and "special representatives" of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are leaving for these capitals to try and convince the leadership there to support the Indian waiver in the NSG.
Unlike the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where a simple majority can take decisions, the NSG convention is to get a consensus on all key issues.
Since even a single country in the 45-member body can block the waiver for India, the Indian leadership is not is a position to relax till the NSG grants it the concession.
As of now the position of the various countries in the NSG are as follows:
- Category I (those likely to support): Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Ukraine, Britain and he US.
- Category II (those who are sceptical but might end up supporting): Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey.
- Category III (likely nay sayers): Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.