The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) 2016 annual plenary which begins in Seoul on Monday, will take up membership requests from both India and Pakistan on June 23-24.
According to Dawn, Pakistan submitted its membership application on May 19, a week after India, which applied on May 12.
With massive global support, India stands as a favourite to join the 48-nation group, with an active support from the United States, Russia, Britain, France and other world powers.
China, however, stands as an obstacle to India’s application, arguing that it would enhance a nuclear competition in South Asia by isolating Pakistan.
China wants NSG to admit Pakistan as well, pointing out that both India and Pakistan possessed nuclear weapons and had not signed the NPT.
While China may not force the NSG to admit Pakistan, it can block India as new members are admitted with a consensus of the existing members.
Pakistan reportedly fears that joining the NSG would increase India’s access to nuclear technology, which could also enhance its weapons programme, even if indirectly.
After a June 7 meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House, US President Barack Obama welcomed India’s application to join NSG, and re-affirmed that New Delhi was ready for membership.
Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter to the NSG members, saying they should “agree not to block consensus on Indian admission”.
India, though not a member, enjoys the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules for its atomic cooperation deal with the US.
The NSG is one of the main tools for controlling the exports and proliferation of materials that could potentially be used in making weapons of mass destruction. It also tacks the black market trade of nuclear technologies.