August 23, 2008 / 11:02 AM / 11 years ago

India won't accept conditions on U.S. nuclear deal-report

NEW DELHI, Aug 23 (Reuters) - India will not agree to any conditions to get approval from an atomic trade cartel necessary for a civilian nuclear deal with the United States, a report quoted India’s foreign minister as saying on Saturday.

A 45-nation meeting on whether to lift a ban on nuclear trade with India ended inconclusively on Friday after many raised conditions, leaving the future of the controversial bilateral nuclear deal unclear.

The countries in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will meet again on Sept. 4-5 when the United States is expected to rework the draft taking account of their concerns and re-submit it, according to diplomats who attended Friday’s meeting.

“We have to see what kind of amendments come,” Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Press Trust of India news agency.

The nuclear cartel must agree to allow nuclear fuel and technology exports to India for its civilian atomic energy programme to help seal the 2005 U.S.-Indian trade accord.

Diplomats said conditions tabled at the NSG included intrusive U.N. inspections of Indian civilian nuclear sites; cancellation of any waiver if India tests bombs again; and periodic reviews of Indian compliance with the exemption.

New Delhi, sensitive to domestic leftist charges that closer ties with the United States will undo its strategic autonomy, has insisted on a “clean and unconditional” waiver from the NSG.

That demand has disturbed pro-disarmament nations and campaigners since India is outside the global Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and developed nuclear bombs in the 1970s with Western technology imported ostensibly for peaceful ends.

Time is running out on the bilateral deal which still has to reach U.S. Congress latest by early September for ratification, before the house breaks for the November American elections. (Reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by David Fox)

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