India’s bid to get membership at the elite Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) seems to have hit a Chinese roadblock! Last week members of the NSG met in Vienna, but China claims that the subject of India’s membership did not feature.
However, diplomatic sources in Vienna had said earlier that India’s membership was discussed at the meeting and talks had remained inconclusive.
On the other hand PM Narendra Modi is leaving no stone unturned to get members of the 48-nation bloc to support India’s membership request. Rattled by India’s attempt at entering the NSG, Pakistan has also applied for its membership.
We take a look at 5 recent developments around India’s entry bid for NSG:
Modi dials Putin:
According to a Times of India report, PM Modi has reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Saturday. Russia has been supportive of India’s global ambitions from the UN Security Council to the nuclear deal.
According to a Kremlin statement, the phone call on Saturday was at Modi’s behest. Modi and Putin are also scheduled to meet soon. “Modi may be lining up some big meetings in the days before the NSG plenary, including with Chinese President Xi Jinping, possibly on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Tashkent,” the report said.
What China is saying:
China has time and again maintained that non-NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) signatories should not be admitted into NSG on the grounds that it would undermine efforts to prevent proliferation.
“There was no deliberation on any items related to the accession to the NSG by India or any other countries that are not signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said referring to the NSG meeting in Vienna.
“The NPT provides a political and legal foundation for the international non-proliferation regime as a whole. China’s position applies to all non-NPT countries and targets no one in particular,” Hong said, without directly mentioning India’s application to join the Vienna-based group.
“The fact is that many countries within the group also share China’s stance,” Hong said in response to a question about China, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria objecting to India’s accession to the NSG at its meeting in Vienna.
“There has been some discussion within the group on the NSG membership of non-NPT countries, but NSG members remain divided on this issue,” Hong said.
The Pakistan angle:
Pakistan sought membership of the exclusive nuclear trading club after PM Narendra Modi secured US backing for India’s bid for NSG. It is believed that Pakistan has support of China which has assured that it would not support India’s membership until Pakistan was also given the same treatment. Last month Pakistan formally applied for the NSG membership.
Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz has had a telephonic conversation with the foreign ministers of Russia, South Korea and New Zealand in order to gain support for the country’s application for NSG membership, according to Express Tribune.
Pakistan has asked NSG member states to be “objective and non-discriminatory” while deciding on expanding the grouping’s membership as Islamabad stepped up diplomatic efforts to raise support for its inclusion.
Support for India from Mexico and Switzerland:
PM Modi has already managed to bag the support of Mexico and Switzerland. Mexico’s backing represents a historic policy shift for the country, which has held a firm position on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation for decades.
The US and many other NSG member countries have supported India’s inclusion based on its non-proliferation track record. Last week, US President Obama welcomed India’s application to join the NSG, and re-affirmed that India is ready for membership. US called on NSG participating governments to support India’s application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary.
India is also poised to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) after talks last week between Modi and US President Barack Obama in Washington. Both groups (MTCR and NSG) would give India greater access to research and technology.
MTCR is an informal political understanding among states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology. Membership of the MTCR will help India procure high-end missile technology and surveillance systems by leading manufacturers which are allowed to be accessed by only MTCR member countries.
Meanwhile, India’s bid for full membership in NSG, if granted, would tip the balance of power in South Asia against Pakistan. India has been pushing for membership of the bloc for last few years and had formally moved its application on May 12. The NSG had granted an exclusive waiver for India in 2008 to access civil nuclear technology after China reluctantly backed India’s case based on the Indo-US nuclear deal.
(With inputs from Agencies)