China today asserted its opposition to India’s membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), saying there is no change in its stand and efforts were on to forge “consensus” among the 48-member elite nuclear club about the admission of new members. “China’s position on this remains unchanged,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media here responding to Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s remarks in New Delhi yesterday that Moscow was speaking to China for India’s membership into the NSG. “China supports the NSG to follow the principle of consensus through consultation through transparent and fair intergovernmental process to deal with this issue,” Geng said. China, a key member of the NSG, has been stridently opposing India’s bid primarily on the grounds that New Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its opposition has made India’s entry into the group difficult as the NSG works on the principle of consensus.
China’s repeated stonewalling of India’s membership bid in the NSG has become a major stumbling block in bilateral relations. After India’s application for entry into the elite group which controls nuclear trade, Pakistan, China’s all-weather ally, too had applied with the tacit backing of Beijing. Pakistan’s application came despite serious allegation of proliferation of nuclear technology by its scientist AQ Khan. Ryabkov yesterday said that Russia is unwavering in its support to India’s membership of international nuclear control regimes and Moscow was speaking to China in this regard.
Asked for his reaction to Ryabkov’s comments, Geng said all the members of the NSG supported the two-step approach-to find non-discriminatory solution that applies to all non-NPT countries then on that basis discuss the application of the non-NPT counties. He said the focus is on some non-NPT countries who hope to join the group in the capacity of nuclear weapons free countries. “At the same time they will not sign the Comprehensive Safeguard Agreement (CSA) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)” which is mandatory under the NPT, he said.
“In this circumstance if we agree for the above-mentioned applications, it will have two consequences, that is to recognise the nuclear weapons status of the Non-NPT countries. Secondly, it will cause other than nuclear weapons free countries to follow suit not to sign CSA with IAEA,” he said. “This will subvert the NPT and whole international non- proliferation regime,” he added. China suggested that the NSG can pool the wisdom and further explore on this issue and find a solution which can be accepted by all relevant parties and can uphold the international non-proliferation regime with NPT as a cornerstone.
“On this we will further discuss application of non-contracting parties,” Geng said. Asked whether the issue will figure in the Russia, India, China (RIC) Foreign Ministers’ meeting to be held in Delhi on December 11, Geng said that the meeting will focus on pragmatic cooperation. At the same time they will exchange views on international issues of common concern.