India to push Turkey to drop opposition to nuclear club

India to push Turkey to drop opposition to nuclear club

With a Presidential visit to Istanbul and Ankara, India is now set to scale up its diplomatic engagement with Turkey, which has in the recent past tacitly opposed New Delhi’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

President Pranab Mukherjee is set to embark on a tour to Turkey from October 5 to 7, about 15 years after a visit by a Head of the State of India. K R Narayanan was the last Indian President to visit Turkey in 1998. 

Mukherjee will leave New Delhi on Wednesday for a visit to Belgium. This is going to be his third visit after taking over as President in July 2012. He earlier travelled to Bangladesh and Mauritius in March this year. He will meet King Phillippe – the Head of the State of Belgium – in Brussels apart from inaugurating cultural festival ‘Europalia-India 2013-14’. President will leave Brussels on Saturday for a visit to Istanbul and Ankara. He will meet Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara.

Turkey, which has a special relationship with Pakistan, has in the recent past sought to block India’s bid to join the NSG – a 47-member cartel controlling the nuclear commerce worldwide.

The NSG guidelines prohibit its members to enter into nuke ties with the countries that had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT. Neither India, nor Pakistan has signed the NPT.

New Delhi, however, in 2008 secured a waiver from the NSG, which cleared the hurdle for the US-India nuclear cooperation.

Though Turkey supported India’s bid to get the waiver from the NSG in 2008, it subsequently argued for a criteria-based approach on the issue of inducting new members in the bloc. Ankara’s stand is apparently intended to prepare ground for Pakistan to stake claim for NSG membership in case the cartel admits India.
New Delhi, however, argues that its impeccable non-proliferation record cannot be put into comparison with that of Islamabad.

Pakistan’s nuclear programme has been under international scrutiny ever since the country’s top nuclear scientist A Q Khan’s clandestine proliferation network came to light.
India, however, has stepped up its diplomatic engagement with Turkey. External Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid, visited Ankara last July for a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoğlu.

 The two ministers agreed that New Delhi and Ankara would work together towards India’s membership of the NSG. Davutoğlu, however, made it clear that although Turkey was not opposed to India joining the bloc, but would first want resolution of the issue involving the prerequisite of being NPT signatory to join the club.

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