New Delhi: Ten days after the international nuclear cartel, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), amended its rules to prevent export of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to non-NPT signatories, the Indian policy-making establishment appears to have found its voice with foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, dropping broad hints that Delhi may not oblige countries with purchase of nuclear reactors should they refuse to sell ENR equipment or technologies to it.
She watered down the threat, however, by clarifying that India had received support for the 2008 NSG ''clean waiver'' granted it by the NSG from partner nations with which it intended to strike deals for reactors and related equipment. Other than that, she said, India also had bilateral civil nuclear ''commitments'' from major partners like the US, France and Russia.
After parading the act for years that it had received 'clean exemption' from the international cartel from its regulations, India received a rude jolt when the NSG issued fresh guidelines on 24 June this year banning sale of ENR equipment to non-NPT signatories. The fresh guidelines amend previous rules under which the NSG had issued a ''clean waiver'' to India in 2008.
The policy-making establishment went into deep silence resorting to background briefings all the while after the development. With Rao's statement yesterday, this is the first time that Delhi is openly acknowledging the setback.
"We will defend our interests to the hilt," Rao said when asked in a TV interview if India would not buy reactors from any country that refuses to sell ENR technology as well. "There is a balance of interest, there is a balance of commitments, there is mutual reciprocity involved. There are leverages that we can exert from our side also," she added.
While transfer of ENR technologies is not mentioned specifically in the bilateral agreements with partner nations like the USA, France and Russia, Delhi says it has received verbal assurances in the past that such transfers would be allowed.