PM Narendra Modi is leaving no stone unturned to bag the crucial NSG (Nuclear Suppliers’ Group) membership for India. According to reports, PM Modi is trying to soften China’s stand and is likely to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on June 23.
China has been opposing India’s entry bid arguing that it has not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, it has been batting for its close ally Pakistan’s entry if NSG extends any exemption for India. India has asserted that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG as there has been a precedent in this regard, citing the case of France.
Will China soften?
PM Modi will be meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit meeting that is currently on in Tashkent.
Highly placed sources told ANI that the meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping would be an exclusive one-on-one discussion, where the top agenda would be to seek China’s support for India’s membership in the NSG.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is also likely to visit Seoul to garner support for India.
China for the first time has said the “door is open” for discussions on the issue but took a swipe at the US for backing India, saying it was one of those who made the rule against the entry of non-NPT countries into NSG.
Chinese Foreign Ministry, however, asked the 48-member NSG to “stay focussed” on whether the criteria should be changed on entry of non-NPT countries into the elite group.
“I have not seen the US statement supporting India. But US is one of those who made the rule that non-NPT countries should not join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
“The relevant rule was made on the principle that NPT was the cornerstone of the NSG,” she said.
Hua made the remarks in response to a question on US asking members of the nuclear trading club to support India’s application.
Later talking to Indian media, Hua said while discussions are going on among the NSG members, the admission of new members is not listed in the current plenary meeting in Seoul.
Also read: US asks NSG members to support India’s bid
S Jaishankar made an unannounced visit to Beijing on June 16-17 to enlist support for India’s bid in NSG.
In an unusual move, China’s state media today defended Pakistan’s nuclear record, saying it was A Q Khan who was responsible for atomic proliferation which was not backed by the government and argued that any exemption to India for NSG entry should also be given to Pakistan.
This is probably the first time Chinese official media has directly made a case for Pakistan’s inclusion in the NSG. China officially maintains that there should be consensus about admitting all members.
Countries such as Norway, New Zealand, South Africa and China all hold reservations about India’s inclusion into the NSG,” the article said.
“But some Indian media and scholars simply put the blame on China, accusing China of being hostile toward India, which misses the point,” the article said.
US stands with India:
Amid China’s opposition, the US has given a fresh push to India’s NSG membership bid by asking members of the elite club to support India’s entry into the grouping during the ongoing plenary meeting in Seoul.
“We believe, and this has been US policy for some time, that India is ready for membership and the United States calls on participating governments to support India’s application at the plenary session of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has said.
The NSG remains divided over non-NPT countries like India becoming its members, China’s Foreign Ministry had said yesterday less than 24 hours after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj exuded hope that “we would be able to convince China to support our entry to the NSG.”
US President Barack Obama, Earnest said, had an opportunity to discuss the issue of India’s NSG membership bid with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their White House meeting earlier this month.
“The United States, as you know, strongly supports India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Earnest said.
“We have made our views known both publicly and privately, and we’ll continue to do so,” Earnest said when asked if the US has reached out to members of the NSG in support of India’s application.
Support of important members:
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.
Importance of NSG membership:
India is seeking membership of NSG to enable it to trade in and export nuclear technology.
The access to the NSG, which regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for energy-starved India, which has an ambitious energy generation programme. India is looking at 63,000 MW energy requirement through the nuclear programme by 2030.
The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership of the grouping will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector.
(With inputs from PTI)