LAHORE (Web Desk) – Despite Mexican and Swiss support to Modi’s bid for entry into 48-member elite NSG club, India will never join the Nuclear Suppliers Group as long as China is in the show.
China is leading opposition to a push by the United States (US) and other major powers for India to join the main club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology, diplomats said on Thursday as the group discussed India’s membership bid.
The attention given to the upcoming plenary session of the Nuclear Suppliers Group is surprising, given that there is little chance of anything being accomplished. The biggest item on the agenda is, of course, the admission of India into the trading cartel, which is vehemently being opposed by China and perhaps also by Turkey, South Africa, Austria, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
In order to make its entry into the NSG smooth, the Modi government has resurrected a previously defunct organization to become the nodal agency for nuclear cooperation with smaller countries. Despite these efforts, experts think that China will never let India join the group.
Beijing’s position, ostensibly, is that there should be clear criteria to join the 48-nation group of nuclear vendors. Exceptions should not be made for anyone, including India, because they inevitably weaken the entire nuclear non-proliferation regime. China also insists that all members of the NSG should be signatories of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The 48-nation NSG aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by restricting the sale of items that can be used to make those arms.
India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, even though India had developed atomic weapons without signing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.
Opponents argue that granting India NSG membership would undermine previous efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation.
It would also infuriate South Asian rival Pakistan, which responded to India’s membership bid with its own application for membership and has the backing of its close ally China.
“By bringing India on board, it’s a slap in the face of the entire non-proliferation regime,” a diplomatic source from one of a handful of countries resisting India’s push said on the condition of anonymity.
A decision on Indian membership is not expected before the NSG plenary meeting in Seoul on June 20, but diplomats said Washington had been pressuring hold-outs, and Thursday’s closed-door meeting was a chance to see how strong opposition is.
US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote members and asked them “not to block consensus on Indian admission to the NSG” in a letter sent last Friday.
China, however, showed no sign of backing down from its opposition to India’s NSG inclusion unless Pakistan is also made a member.
Most of the hold-outs oppose the idea of admitting a non-NPT state such as India and argue that if it is to be admitted, it should be under criteria that apply equally to all states rather than under a “tailor-made” solution for a US ally.
Mexico’s president said on Wednesday his country supports India’s membership bid, but one Vienna-based diplomat said it still opposed the idea of the South Asian state joining under conditions that did not apply equally to all.