New Delhi: For the second time in less than a week France has reiterated its unambiguous support for the 'clean waiver' granted India by the 46-nation NSG in September 2008. The reaffirmation comes within days of Delhi dropping loud hints that it would reciprocate in kind should NSG members seek to amend any aspect of what it considers to be a 'clean waiver' granted to it for conduct of civil nuclear trade.
On Tuesday, France issued a strong statement fully backing the Nuclear Suppliers Group's 2008 'clean waiver' for Delhi, saying "nothing in the existing and future guidelines" shall detract from it.
"With long-standing French support, India has been granted a clean exemption by the NSG, allowing for full civilian nuclear cooperation," French ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont said here in the wake of the new NSG guidelines adopted at its meeting in the Netherlands 24 June, which tighten the restrictions on the export of ENR technologies to countries that have not signed the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"This exemption reflects the unique situation of India and constitutes a historical achievement. Therefore, in the French view, nothing in the existing and future guidelines shall be interpreted as detracting from that exemption or reducing the ambition of our bilateral cooperation," the French envoy underlined.
The 2008 clean exemption from NSG, and reciprocal commitments from India, including opening up a number of its nuclear facilities for international inspection, allowed India to rejoin the international nuclear mainstream after a gap of 34 years.
Alluding to France's bilateral civilian pact with India, which came into force on 14 January 2010, the French envoy spelt out the specifics of that cooperation.