New Delhi/Washington: The validity of the terms of the nuclear deal struck by India with the United States and other nations is now in doubt, with the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an international cartel, reneging on the 'clean' waiver provided to Delhi by withdrawing the right of its members to supply enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology (ENR) to countries, such as India, who are non-signatories of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Since non-signatories of the NPT are already barred by other provisions of the cartel's guidelines, an amendment adopted by the NSG on Friday effectively targets just India, to which it had earlier provided a ''clean'' waiver from all restrictions for trade in nuclear equipment and material.
The question now arises whether India remains bound by commitments it made to the United States and the international cartel to secure what the UPA's policy makers in Delhi had proudly claimed to be a ''clean'' waiver.
In a decision announced from Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an international nuclear suppliers cartel, said its member nations ''agreed to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies.'' Though the 46-nation grouping did not release details, the draft text makes it amply evident that the new resolution targets countries which are not signatories to the NPT and do not have full-scope safeguards agreement which allow international inspections of all their nuclear facilities.
Under their old set of guidelines, the NSG had full-scope safeguards for the supply of any nuclear equipment or material through the provisions of paragraph 4. An additional safeguard was ensured through paragraphs 6 and 7 of the guidelines, in which suppliers were asked to be cautious and ensure that no equipment or technology should be supplied that could be used to enrich uranium beyond 20 per cent.
On 6 September 2008, the NSG waived the full-scope safeguards requirement of paragraph 4 for India and expressly allowed ENR exports, subject to paragraphs 6 and 7. In sanctioning a ''clean'' waiver, the NSG said it was acting ''based on the commitments and actions'' on non-proliferation undertaken by India.
But Friday's resolution dumps the ''waiver'' by the simple expedient of adopting a new paragraph 6, which now specifies objective and subjective criteria a customer nation, such as India, must meet before an NSG member can sell ENR equipment to it.