The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers' Group privately agreed in Vienna not to sell sensitive technologies to India in the 'foreseeable future', said a media report that could stir up more controversy in the ongoing political debate on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal in New Delhi.
Coverage: Indo-US Nuclear Deal
The Washington Post citing unnamed sources familiar with the negotiation last weekend said that this previously undisclosed understanding within the NSG helped persuade several sceptical member states to support a waiver authorising nuclear trade with India.
'In the discussions about how to handle enrichment and reprocessing, it was made clear that nobody had any plans to transfer such technologies to India in the foreseeable future,' a senior US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity as he was describing private diplomatic exchanges, told The Post.
The comments came close on the heels of President George Bush's statement that American commitments to the Indian side under the agreement were not 'legally binding'.
The media report goes on to make the point that the NSG is separately nearing consensus on a total ban on sensitive sales to countries such as India that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- a move that would put such trade even further out of New Delhi's reach.
It suggested that though the NSG discussion has received little public attention, it was another factor in persuading countries such as Ireland, New Zealand and Austria to end their effort to write such trade restrictions into the waiver for India.
The official said that while such statements were not binding, the NSG countries recognised that they were planning to 'tighten up' the rules on such sales in the near future, allowing them to achieve the same restrictions on India later without causing a diplomatic rupture now.