By Ashok Dixit
New Delhi, Oct.28 (ANI): Given its impeccable nuclear non-proliferation record, India does have a significant, indisputable, recognised and growing role in taking the goals of the 48-member nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) forward, said Ambassador Rafael M. Grossi, Chairman of the NSG and Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Argentine Republic at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Ambassador Grossi, who is in New Delhi for talks with senior Indian Government leaders and officials, including External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, told ANI in an exclusive interview, “India’s keen and legitimate interest in aspiring to become a member of the NSG is in itself an indication of the role it can and desires to play in the nuclear area. It does have a significant, indisputable, recognised and growing role in an increasingly globalised world, and in particular, in the field of peaceful nuclear energy generation, which is one of the fastest growing programmes in the world.”
Ambassador Grossi further said that talks with the Indian leadership and the NSG on a host of nuclear energy and safety-related issues, as well as New Delhi’s aspiration to be a member of the NSG, can be said to be “work in progress.”
“The NSG functions on the premise of compatibility and consensus through established guidelines. If were to talk about how India could contribute to strengthening the NSG, I would say, in a very general statement, that all countries active in the nuclear field have something to contribute. Nobody denies this fact. The important thing is to fine tune the process, where, consensus can be achieved, to do it in a fair, concise and transparent manner,” he said.
Diverting towards India’s role in the IAEA, Ambassador Grossi told ANI, “India is a key member, a key nuclear power that has focused on developing its nuclear energy for use in the agriculture sector, in the field of medicine, in the development of its nuclear plants. It has an excellent reputation, an indisputable role, which will be much more in the future. The globalization of India’s nuclear programme is something to be welcomed.”
During this freewheeling interview, Ambassador Grossi also dwelled on the NSG’s mandate as he saw it, which was to “produce, export, import nuclear material and equipment; exchange information on export and import policies; prevent misuse or abuse of legitimate trade of nuclear goods for hostile use and offer technological expertise to countries that seeking its assistance.”
He was clear that the NSG, which consisted of like-minded nations, applies “soft laws” to prevent nuclear trade abuse.
In terms of benefits, he said that once admitted, an NSG member state gets (1) Timely information on nuclear matters (2) Contributes by way of information (3) Has confirmed credentials (4) Can act as an instrument of harmonization and coordination (5) Is part of a very transparent process.
He, however, said that not each transfer of information related to the nuclear field has to be approved by the NSG.
“The NSG is not a supra-national authority. It is only a mechanism for exchange of information, provides a forum for consultation,” Ambassador Grossi said.
Asked to list his achievements as the current Chair of the NSG (Has been in that position since June 2014), Ambassador Grossi said, “As a group, we have acquired technical expertise and capability. We have established a group that assists diplomats and officials on technical matters, list of equipments, changes if any, evolved processes etc. We have deepened the NSG’s outreach activities, engaged in dialogue with aspiring countries such as India; engaged with non-members who could become members, or with nations who may not want to be members, but are keen to avail of the NSG expertise. Our outreach has broadened with international forums, we have organised assistance for nations needing export controls etc.”
On the future direction that the NSG could take, he said, “In spite of the nuclear mishap at Fukushima, Japan (March 2011), the world nuclear industry continues to grow. Examples are India, China, Latin America and some countries in Europe. I would also like to say that the IAEA’s role is equally and essentially important even more today than before. The Fukushima episode has shown that there is still room for improvement; that the role of the IAEA needs to be strengthened, and that this can only be achieved if there is a consensus between members. There is work to be done both in terms of ensuring security of physical nuclear assets (plants etc) and also ensuring the prevention of a radiological emergency. As I see it safeguards are in essence an international audit of nuclear abilities. Our challenge is ‘make more with less’. That is our statutory mission.” (ANI)