Despite the Nuclear Suppliers Group this week adopting controversial new guidelines restricting the sale of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology to certain nations, the United States insisted that it continued to fully support the “clean” waiver granted to India as an exception to such restrictions.
The “new” guidelines were said to be similar in some respects to their 2008 version, according to which countries that are not members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or are not subject to full-scope safeguards of their nuclear facilities, would not be eligible to purchase ENR technology from NSG members.
Yet the State Department said on Thursday, “Nothing about the new ENR transfer restrictions agreed to by NSG members should be construed as detracting from the unique impact and importance of the U.S.-India agreement or our commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation.”
Neither the State Department nor the White House provided any further explanations on the apparent contradiction between the wording of the new NSG guidelines and the assumption that ENR sales to India would remain unaffected.
However State Deparment officials said in a public statement that the NSG guidelines’ references to the NPT, including those on ENR transfers, “in no way detract from the exception granted to India by NSG members in 2008 and in no way reflect upon India’s non-proliferation record.”
The State Department also defended the passage of the new restrictions at the NSG meeting in the Netherlands this week on the basis that all such efforts by the NSG to strengthen controls on ENR transfers were “consistent with long-standing U.S. policy that pre-dates the Civil Nuclear Agreement and have been reaffirmed on an annual basis by the G-8 for years.”
Arguing that the new guideline reflected “a consensus among all NSG members,” a State Department spokesperson also underscored that the references to the NPT contained within the guidelines “reinforce the commitment of NSG members to prevent the transfer of items that could be used for weapons purposes, which is the mission of the regime itself.”