World

NEW YORK (Web desk) – A Democratic US Senator, Ed Markey, while speaking to US Assistant Secretary for South Asia, Nisha Biswal, on Thursday, warned that India’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) would cause a “never-ending” nuclear race in South Asia.

The NSG is a multinational body, which seeks to reduce nuclear proliferation by monitoring the export, re-transfer and protection of sensitive materials, Dawn reported.

Warning the US government against pursuing its current policy of enabling India’s inclusion in the NSG, Markey said, “What you are doing is creating an action-reaction that is leading to a never-ending escalation cycle that ultimately leads to the development of nuclear weapons including battlefield nuclear weapons.”

At a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US-India Relations on Tuesday evening, Senator Markey also reminded the Biswal that the Obama administration’s policy of helping India join NSG was dangerous and unnecessary.

“If India gained the membership of NSG then it would be the only participating government that was not a member of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Despite the lack of consensus in the NSG on India’s membership, the Obama administration is forcefully pressing for a vote in the coming months,” Senator Markey noted.

He said that, starting with its sale of uranium to the country in 1980, the US had repeatedly given India nuclear-related exemptions, culminating in the 2008 US-India civilian nuclear deal which was finalized without sufficient safeguards.

Assistant Secretary on South Asia Biswal said that President Obama had reaffirmed India’s  suitability and readiness to join the NSG. She explained that the country had already brought its export control in line with NSG standards and had adhered to the group’s other guidelines.

However, US Senator Markey expressed doubts over India’s commitment to non-proliferation, noting that since 2008, when the US granted India its nuclear exemption, the country had continued to produce fissile material for its nuclear weapons program “virtually unchecked.”

“At that time, Pakistan warned us that the deal would increase the chances of the nuclear arms race in South Asia. It is clear that since then Pakistan has developed battlefield nuclear weapons that could be given to frontline Commanders and there is a likelihood of their use,” the senator added.

“Is there a relationship between what we do with India such as granting them exemptions from the rules and how we deal with Pakistan in restraining them from making certain choices?”

“We have distinct and robust dialogues with both countries and address interests of both countries on their respective merit,” Assistant Secretary Nisha Biswal said in response to Markey’s concerns.