The Obama Administration has strongly defended its decision to back India’s membership in the NSG, rebutting a known anti-India Senator who opposed the move.
“The President (Barack Obama) has reaffirmed that US views that India meets not only the missile technology control regime but also it is ready for NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) membership,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday.
She was responding to a question from Senator Ed Markey, who opposed the move of India becoming a member of the NSG, arguing that it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Markey said that the NSG has “agreed to a set of factors that must be taken into account when considering whether to accept a new member. Among those factors is that the State must be a party to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty or an equivalent nonproliferation agreement”.
“And that it must accept full scope safeguards from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). In other words, Indian membership would require us either to set these factors aside or to revise them. So which of these two options, revising the rules or setting them aside does the administration plan to pursue?” asked Markey, one of the lawmakers who had led the effort opposing the civil nuclear deal during the Bush Administration as a member of the House of Representatives. He interrupted Biswal several times as she tried to explain the Administration’s position and that India meets the criteria to be a member of the NSG.
“Is the (US) going to ask for revision of the rules or set the rules aside for India?” he asked multiple times. Biswal said: “I do believe that in our engagement with the NSG, we have made the case that we believe that India has complied with and is consistent with the requirements of the NSG and therefore should be considered for membership.”
“So you are saying that you are not exempting India from NSG member guidelines, and they are in compliance with the guidelines. Is that the Administration’s perspective?” the Democratic Senator asked. “Our position is that India is very much consistent with the NSG,” Biswal said. “Are they in compliance with the membership guidelines?” Markey said.
“It is our considered opinion that India has met the requirements and therefore should be considered,” Biswal said as she was again interrupted by Markey.
“I do not think, any clear reading of the NSG rules could lead to that logical conclusion,” Markey said as he tried to put India and Pakistan on the same boat of nuclear non-proliferation and NSG membership. Markey stressed that India’s membership to NSG should require New Delhi signing comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT), agreeing to halt production of fissile material before pursuing for NSG membership.