India today rejected China's contention that it must sign the NPT to get membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, saying France was included in the elite group without signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"I think there is some confusion here. Even the NPT allows civil nuclear cooperation with non-NPT countries. If there is a connection, it is between the NSG and IAEA safeguards and with export controls," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
He was asked about a Chinese official linking China's support to India's bid for NSG to the country signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) .
"NSG members have to respect safeguards and export controls, nuclear supplies have to be in accordance with the NSG Guidelines. The NSG is an ad hoc export control regime and France, which was not an NPT member for some time, was a member of the NSG since it respected NSG's objectives," said Swarup.
China has opposed India's bid to get NSG membership on the ground that it was yet to sign the NPT. Its Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had said all the multilateral non-proliferation export control regime including the NSG have regarded NPT as an important standard for the expansion of the NSG.
"Apart from India, lot of other countries expressed their willingness to join. Then it raised the question to the international community - shall the non-NPT members also become part of the NSG?" he said, adding "China's position is not directed against any specific country but applies to all the non-NPT members".
Liu Zhenmin, China's Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, later denied that his country was blocking India's bid for a membership in elite NSG and said it will "work" with the members of the 48-nation grouping as well as India to find a solution.
"Members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group should be party to NPT. So, I think China will also work with others including Indian colleagues together to find a solution," he had said.
President Pranab Mukherjee is likely to raise the issue during his visit to Beijing next week.