* Nuclear export body meets in Buenos Aires on June 26-27
* Relationship with non-member India among issues to be
* U.S. and Britain have argued for India membership
* But China and others believed to have doubts - diplomats
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA, June 24 An influential world body that
controls nuclear exports will address the sensitive issue of
closer ties with India - which is outside the nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty - at an annual meeting this week, a
draft agenda obtained by Reuters showed.
The United States, Britain and others have argued that
nuclear-armed India should join the secretive 48-nation Nuclear
Suppliers Group - established in 1975 to ensure that civilian
atomic trade is not diverted for military purposes.
But other NSG states have voiced doubt about accepting a
country that built up a nuclear arsenal outside a 189-nation
treaty set up four decades ago to prevent states from acquiring
such weapons of mass destruction.
Days ahead of the June 26-27 NSG meeting in Buenos Aires,
India said it was ratifying an agreement, a so-called Additional
Protocol, with the International Atomic Energy Agency to expand
oversight over its civilian nuclear programme.
The United States said this marked another "important step
in bringing India into the international non-proliferation
mainstream". But some critics questioned the step's
significance, as it would not affect India's nuclear weapons
programme and sensitive atomic fuel activities.
They said the Indian agreement was a much weaker version of
a deal most other IAEA members have, giving the U.N. watchdog
wide inspection powers to make sure there are no covert nuclear
activities in a country.
"India's version of the Additional Protocol is a paper
tiger," said Daryl Kimball of the U.S.-based Arms Control
Association, a research and advocacy group.
A diplomatic source said he did not expect any decision on
the membership issue at the NSG plenary meeting in Argentina's
capital, suggesting it would take more time.
The diplomatic tussle centres on whether the emerging power
should be allowed into a key forum deciding rules for civilian
nuclear trade, even though it never joined the 1970
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), under which it would have to
give up its nuclear weapons.
The agenda for the meeting on Thursday and Friday said
members would be "invited to a general discussion on the NSG's
relationship with India", without giving details on this point.
The NSG's outgoing chair before Argentina takes over, the
Czech Republic, is to report on "consultations with India
regarding dialogue and cooperation" with member states.
India - Asia's third-largest economy - would need the
support of all NSG states to join the cartel that has a pivotal
role in countering nuclear threats and proliferation.
If India eventually were to become a member, it would boost
its standing as an atomic power. It would be the only member of
the suppliers group that has not signed up to the NPT.
Supporters say it is better if the country is inside than
outside the NSG as it is already an advanced nuclear energy
power and will in future become a significant exporter as well.
Those who are sceptical argue it could erode the credibility
of the NPT, which is a cornerstone of global nuclear disarmament
Diplomats have said that China and some others have been
doubtful. Beijing's reservations are believed to be influenced
by its ties to its ally Pakistan, India's rival, which has also
tested atomic bombs and is also outside the NPT, analysts say.
To receive civilian nuclear exports, nations that are not
one of the five officially recognised nuclear arms states -
those that had known arsenals before the NPT was hatched - must
usually place their nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards.
When the United States sealed a nuclear supply deal with
India in 2008 that China and others found questionable because
Delhi is outside the NPT, Washington won an NSG waiver from that
rule after long and contentious negotiations in Vienna.
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)