Waiver of nuclear rules for India looks doubtful
VIENNA - The United States appeared optimistic and reaffirmed its commitment to a landmark US-India nuclear cooperation deal yesterday at the end of a first day of discussions by a consortium crucial to the agreement's fate.
But other participants in a meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group suggested it was unlikely that a final decision on whether to give India access to legal imports of nuclear fuel and technology would be made by the time the meeting wraps up today.
Chances of an unconditional exemption for India - wanted by Washington and New Delhi - also appeared to be dwindling.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the United States is "very hopeful" about the waiver.
The US-India deal would reverse more than three decades of US policy that has barred the sale of nuclear fuel and technology to India, which has not signed international nonproliferation accords and has tested nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency gave India the green light earlier this month, but it still needs approval from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. Observers said the group was unlikely to relax its rules during the meeting.
Some countries are enticed by the prospect of doing more business with India and appear to back a US argument that the deal would bring India into the nonproliferation mainstream.
But others are concerned that exporting nuclear fuel and technology to a country that has not made a legally binding disarmament pledge could set a dangerous precedent and weaken efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and materials.