NSG member Germany is not enthusiastic about nuke deal

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

24 Oct, 2007, 0242 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The US hope that the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal will be carried forward is not mirrored on the international stage. The issue is not likely to feature in any major way during the high profile visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to India from October 29 to November 1. It is understood that under the present situation, Germany, which will soon chair the Nuclear Suppliers Group, sees no point in formulating a position towards India’s civilian nuclear aspiration.

“Germany can only fully make up its mind when we know the details of the agreement. We will not be dealing with it until all parameters are in place,” Germany’s ambassador to India Bernd Muetzelburg told reporters on Tuesday. The parameters refers to India successfully negotiating a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, a move that has now been put in cold storage due to opposition from the Left.

Prime Minister’s special envoy Shyam Saran was recently in Germany, which is divided on the issue, to persuade the German government to support the nuclear deal.

He had held talks with different political leaders. Angela Merkel’s own party, the Christian Democratic Union, has been favourable towards India’s civilian nuclear aspirations but the government’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, has been divided over the issue. Germany had earlier indicated that it would like India to sign the CTBT and ratify the fissile material cut-off treaty to enter the nuclear mainstream.

Germany is not alone, the Netherlands, another NSG member, has also adopted a “wait and watch” approach on the nuclear deal. Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands accompanied by Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen are on a visit to India but nuclear talks are set to remain on the back burner. Many of the NSG countries were waiting for India to complete negotiations with the IAEA before coming out with their position on the deal.

Meanwhile Ms Merkel is expected to meet Mr Singh on October 30 with energy, mainly renewable, defence, enchancing scientific cooperation, climate change and trade and investment dominating discussions. “Our economic relations are thriving and trade figures are breaking new records. Our bilateral trade with India has doubled within 3 years and might even cross 12 billion Euros this year,” the ambassador said.

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