China scuttles India's bid to enter NSG

China scuttles India's bid to enter NSG

Beijing’s tacit opposition again thwarted New Delhi’s bid to seek membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), as it discussed a proposal for India’s admission into the bloc at its recent conclave in Argentina.

The NSG’s relationship with India was discussed in the annual plenary meeting of the 48-nation group—which controls global commerce of atomic fuel, equipment and technology—held at Bariloche in Argentina last week, but parleys did not result in any significant headway, officials told Deccan Herald in New Delhi.

The US argued that India was “ready for membership of the NSG”. China, however, continued to insist on consensus on the issue of admissibility of “non-NPT nations”—countries that did not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—into the bloc, and even linked India’s membership bid with that of Pakistan.

The NSG guidelines prohibit its members from entering into nuke ties with countries that had not signed the NPT. Neither India nor Pakistan had signed it.

Washington, however, helped New Delhi secure a waiver from the NSG in 2008, in the form of a statement from the group, clearing the hurdle for Indo-US nuclear cooperation.
According to an NSG statement after the June 3-5 plenary meeting, bloc members had shared “information on all aspects of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India”. Chinese diplomats who attended the NSG plenary meeting argued that the NPT had been the “cornerstone” of the multilateral export control regime. They pointed out that the NSG had so far been regarding the “status of the NPT state” as “a crucial standard” to admit new members.

Though China had supported India’s bid for the 2008 waiver, it subsequently argued for a criteria-based approach on the issue of inducting new members.

China’s stand is apparently intended to prepare the ground for Pakistan to stake claim for NSG membership in case it admits India.

During his first visit to New Delhi in 2010, US President Barack Obama had announced Washington’s willingness to support India’s bid for full membership of the NSG. India has since reworked its nuclear export control mechanism to meet the NSG requirements.

Obama’s second visit to New Delhi this January saw the US publicly acknowledging that India was ready for NSG membership. The joint statement issued after Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi also noted US support to India’s early application to and eventual membership of the NSG and three other multilateral export control regimes—Wassenaar Arrangement, Australian Group and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

India has already formally applied for the membership of the MTCR, which governs global business of technology and materials that could be used to develop unmanned systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

According to officials in New Delhi, it might be easier for India to get membership of the MTCR as China is not a member of the bloc.

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