1400 GMT Nuclear Suppliers Group approves India's nuclear deal.
(0100 GMT) Reuters reports the U.S. push to lift a global ban on nuclear trade with India stalled on Saturday when a revised proposal failed to win over nations because it did not bind India to refrain from more nuclear bomb tests, diplomats said.
Reuters reported feverish U.S. efforts to clinch consensus at a two-day NSG meeting on the waiver dragged proceedings well into Friday night, but finally stumbled on the testing issue, forcing adjournment in Saturday's early hours. "No decision is possible at this time. The meeting is to resume at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) Saturday," one diplomat said.
The diplomat said the meeting broke down when China's delegation left the meeting in part to support Ireland, Austria and New Zealand. "The Americans have bullied them, including with high-level phone calls to their capitals, but they held firm because the U.S. has showed no flexibility on testing," a diplomat at the meeting told Reuters. President Bush reportedly made the calls to his counterparts in all four countries.
(0030 GMT)The Hindustan Times reports that India’s case for a waiver at the Nuclear Suppliers Group was discussed intensely late on Friday night with the 45-nation cartel that controls global nuclear commerce unable to reach a decision.
Non-proliferation policy issues ensured that a decision by the NSG went down to the wire. Austria led the opposition at the meeting refusing to accept American proposals, saying that it could not change its policy on non-proliferation so close to its parliamentary election.
The Times of India reports that Austria and Ireland are the "last men standing" in the way of a nuclear deal with the U.S. Austria and Ireland rejected as “inadequate” India’s statement that it “remained committed to a voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.”
According to the newspaper, Austrian officials have told the Americans that with elections around the corner, they could not afford to alienate the Green Party. Irish officials said they stood "on principle" regarding support for the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
NDTV in New Dehli reports that US President George Bush has called Chinese President Hu Jintao to seek China's support. However,the move apparently backfired as the Chinese delegation subsequently left the NSG meeting reportedly recalled by their government. Reports from Vienna suggest the Chinese are saying the NSG process must not be rushed to make a decision right away and that's the reason the delegation was recalled to Beijing. The action takes China out of the room without having to cast a "no" vote. It has the effect of a veto anyway since further delay by the NSG will put it out of position relative to action by the U.S. Congress.
Siddharth Varadarajan reports from Vienna via The Hindu that "desperate three-way negotiations were under way" late Friday night between American, Indian and G-6 country officials over the wording and structure of the U.S. proposal to allow nuclear commerce with India.
The Hindu reports, according to a diplomatic source, that the U.S. is conducting parallel consultations in small groups to hammer out an agreement and “the whole thing now has to be integrated in some way” according to an unnamed U.S. official. Among the countries pressing for tougher language were Ireland, Austria, and New Zealand. However, China's delegation has reportedly left the NSG meeting.
At press time, a diplomat from the Group of Six ‘like minded nations’ holding out for tougher conditions told The Hindu that “the meetings are still on and we’re not likely to have final agreement tonight [Friday] given the need for some delegations to get instructions [from their governments] on the revised text.”
A number of states continuing to insist on a clear “cause and effect” link between a future Indian atomic test and the termination of nuclear supplies.
Friday September 5th
(2230 GMT) The Business Standard of India reports a meeting of the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) to approve the India-US nuclear deal went on late into the night in Vienna, but consensus has apparently escaped the grasp of the group mostly because of the continued opposition of Austria, Ireland and New Zealand.
A third round of meetings looms on the horizon, possibly taking place in late September India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Business Standard in New Dheli. He expressed concern about another draft of the document that was circulated in Vienna, listing the terms and conditions that India would be required sign on for to seal the deal. A third meeting will miss the window of opportunity to gain legislative approval from the U.S. Congress. (see text box below)
The changes to the draft were minimal, and some critics said "cosmetic," but Austria insisted that some of their objections be captured in the draft agreement. So far their objections to the current draft have not been met despite intensive dialog during both both days of the meeting. The Business Standard published this comparison of possible outcomes of the NSG meeting. (Text box by Business Standard, India, Sept 5)
(2100 GMT) China threw a monkey wrench into the deliberations of the Nuclear Suppliers Group by recalling its delegation to the meeting. Reuters reports China caused an additional complication in the complex negotiations when its delegation announced it needed to return to Beijing.
Meanwhile, Norway and the Netherlands are reported to have agreed to new language involving a voluntary declaration crafted during the day in behind the scenes discussions. Only Ireland, Austria, and New Zealand were sticking to a tough line on testing. A diplomat at the meeting told Reuters said the general consensus among U.S. and other diplomats was that "the three will come on board at some point."
The diplomat said Washington wanted "to keep pushing along, using the clock as an ally to turn the three hold-outs, so the Chinese comment is problematic." Nobody was willing to put an interpretation on the unexpected move by China. The 45-nation body is working deep into the night to craft a declaration that can gain unanimous support from its members.
Critics of the proposed deal fear India could use access to nuclear material markets to boost its bomb program and drive nuclear rival Pakistan into another arms race. Neither India nor Pakistan have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Opposition to the deal anchors on this issue.
"Voluntary declarations do not have the same value as a (binding) NSG text," another diplomat told Reuters.
(1700 GMT) The Times of India reports Austria, one of the six-pack, is reportedly still unhappy with the current form of nuclear draft and is seeking more changes in it. The United States has put pressure on Austria to agree to the deal, sources told the newspaper.
Diplomatic sources say New Zealand and Austria are the last hurdles in India’s quest to get a waiver from the NSG. An extended break is in place before the last session of talks to convince the opponents to change their minds. The Times quoted an Austrian diplomat who explained what his nation wants from the NSG.
"We want to have more effective and qualitatively improved security architecture," said Peter Launsky, an Austrian foreign ministry official.
Switzerland, which was one of the original members of the "six-pack," now reportedly has agreed not oppose the India-specific exemption. Japan and China are said to be in favor of a consensus on the India-US nuclear deal. This is a major development because up to now China was supporting the six-pack's opposition to it.
At 1700 GMT it is now early evening in Vienna. If the NSG cannot break the stalemate, it is unlikely the group will schedule a third meeting. Time is running out for action by the U.S. Congress to also ratify the deal.
(1600 GMT) The Hindustan Times reports live from Vienna that in a last ditch effort to win over skeptics in the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG), India Friday said its deal with the US would strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and reiterated its commitment to voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing. New Delhi also sought to allay fears of a nuclear arms race and underlined that India had "always tempered the exercise of our strategic autonomy with a sense of global responsibility".
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement re-affirming New Delhi's commitment to a "voluntary moratorium" on future testing was praised as "very significant" by the Nuclear Suppliers' Group and seemed to have generated a "positive momentum" among its 45 members meeting to decide on an unprecedented waiver for India.
"This is a very significant statement which was discussed by members of the NSG and praised and welcomed by those in attendance," US Assistant Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Rood told reporters at the end of the of Friday's morning session of the NSG.
(1500 GMT) IBN India wire service reports Ireland and Austria are the two countries at the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group that stand between India and the ending of its 30-year-old nuclear isolation. In an indication that India's case for a waiver for nuclear commerce is going down to the wire, the NSG broke for informal discussions after two rounds of formal parleys.
The one-hour break is expected to be used by those having "strongest opinions"--those strongly pushing for the India waiver like Russia, Britain and France and those who have reservations like Ireland, New Zealand, Austria and Switzerland to discuss and attempt to thrash out differences, PTI quoted an unnamed Western diplomat as saying.(1400 GMT) Reuters reports that delegates to the meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) taking place in Vienna, Austria, today (9/5) said India's pledges to honor the nuclear nonproliferation treaty do not go far enough.
Member countries are worried that India could set off a regional nuclear arms race if it acquires uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technologies. Also, some countries have said that if India is allowed to buy uranium on the world market for its civilian reactors that this will allow it to divert domestic supplies to its nuclear arms program.
Six counties now backed by China are holding firm to a requirement that would cut off supplies of uranium and access to nuclear technologies if it conducts another nuclear weapon test.
(1200 GMT) The Associated Press reported that India pledged Friday not to engage in a new arms race as talks continued in Vienna over whether to let the United States sell India nuclear material and technology for civilian use.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said his country remains committed to a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing. He said India would not touch off a new arms race or share sensitive nuclear technology with others.
"We do not subscribe to any arms race, including a nuclear arms race," Mukherjee said Friday. "We have always tempered the exercise of our strategic autonomy with a sense of global responsibility. We affirm our policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons."
Acting U.S. Undersecretary of State John Rood, who specializes in arms control issues, told reporters in Vienna as the talks broke for lunch that Washington remained "confident and optimistic" that it would hammer out a compromise.
(0900 GMT) The Hindu newspaper reports that things do not look good for an agreement on Friday. Here's the lead from the latest dispatch posted early Friday morning Sept 5.
The Group of Six like-minded states are continuing to insist on a clear "cause and effect" link between a future Indian atomic test and the termination of nuclear supplies and will block approval of the United States proposal to allow commerce with India when the Nuclear Suppliers Group reconvenes here Friday.
Prior coverage on this blog