March 3, 2006

Key atomic states to weigh US-India deal: Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - The world's top suppliers of atomic
technology, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, will assess the
U.S.-India nuclear agreement at one of their next meetings,
Germany's Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

"How the international community will deal with this issue
will come up at one of the upcoming sessions of the NSG ...
which will then take a position on it," Foreign Ministry
spokesman Martin Jaeger told reporters.

The U.S.-India pact, signed on Thursday, marked a major
breakthrough for New Delhi, long treated as a nuclear pariah by
the world, because it allows it to access civilian American
atomic technology and fuel to meet its soaring energy needs --
provided the U.S. Congress gives its approval.

Congressional approval could also open the door to expanded
atomic trade between India and other nuclear technology powers
-- including Germany -- if the NSG follows suit by lifting its
long-standing curbs on New Delhi.

"I would like to say that there have been no American
proposals or documents put to the group so far," he said.

Germany is one of the world's leading manufacturers and
suppliers of nuclear technology and is one of 45 NSG member
states along with the United States, Russia, China, France,
Sweden, Canada and others.

The NSG is an informal club that forbids the sale of
nuclear technology to countries that are viewed as
proliferation risks. India has nuclear weapons and, like
Pakistan and Israel, never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT).

Diplomats from the NSG member states say they will probably
agree to lift their ban on the sale of sensitive nuclear
technology to India provided the U.N.'s International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) is able to assure them that New Delhi's
civilian and military nuclear programs are entirely separate.

The NSG is not scheduled to meet for several months, but it
could theoretically call a special session at any time.