North Korea emerges X factor in India's NSG bid

India trained 30-odd North Korean scientists: Al Jazeera
Last Updated 23 June 2016, 21:19 IST

As India's bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group entered the last leg, nuclear-powered North Korea has emerged as an X factor for New Delhi in its race to secure a place in the elite club that controls global nuclear commerce.

In the last 48 hours, India and Pakistan - through media leaks - traded charges on assisting North Korea in their nuclear and missile programme violating the UN sanctions.

The allegation against Pakistan was despatching restricted items such as Monel and Inconel – two Nickel-based alloys - to North Korea. Besides, China-made vacuum induction melting furnaces – used in Pyongyang's nuclear programme were being shipped to North Korea via Pakistan.

The counter came in an Al Jazeera report alleging India trained 30-odd North Korean scientists in the last 10 years in a space institute in Dehradun, which benefitted the rogue nation's missile programme. The lapse on the part of the Indian government was discovered in March 2016 in a report to the UN – a charge sternly denied by the Ministry of External Affairs.

“The (Al Jazeera) report is subjective and based on the limited understanding of the experts, who have authored it. India has made its position clear in this regard to the UN Security Council. The course material offered to the participants is available in open-source. We believe these courses are unlikely to contribute in any way to a violation of the various UN sanctions pertaining to DPRK,” the ministry said in a statement.

Officials pointed out, it was ironical that the NSG meeting in South Korean capital Seoul coincided with Pakistan shipping nuclear material to its arch rival North Korea.
On the courses offered at the Indian centre, the MEA statement said the topics covered in the courses offered by the Dehradun-based Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific were very general and covered basic principles in the respective areas.

Further, a representative of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs is a Permanent Observer in the governing board of the centre.

The Advisory Committee of the Centre, which evaluates and reviews the course curriculum and criterion for the selection of candidates, is chaired by the Director of UN-OOSA.

In a veiled reference to the infamous A Q Khan network of nuclear proliferation, the MEA statement said India was a victim of proliferation in its extended neighbourhood and it was ridiculous to suggest that New Delhi aided in proliferation.

(Published 23 June 2016, 20:03 IST)

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