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Despite Support, India’s Entry Into the NSG May Be a Distant Dream

While Switzerland has backed India’s bid to be a part of the NSG, China may pose problems.

Published
India
3 min read
President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a working dinner with heads of delegations of the Nuclear Security Summit. (Photo: AP)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have scored a diplomatic victory by winning Swiss backing for entry into the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), but due to China’s continuous opposition, India will have to wait a little longer to break into the elite club that regulates global nuclear trade.

China Wants Pakistan to Receive the Same Treatment

China has also been insisting that if any concession is given to India, a non-signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the same should apply to Pakistan- a country which has been caught allegedly selling atomic weapons technology to Libya.

China’s argument has saddled India’s NSG bid with Pakistan’s bad track record. Analysts say that this has put India’s application in a precarious situation because its entry into the group depends on consensus. New member are allowed only if all existing members agree.

New members are admitted largely if they agree to be part of the NPT or Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). India has signed neither, on the grounds that they are discriminatory.

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Chinese President Xi Jingping speaks during the opening session of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogues. (Photo Courtesy: AP)
Chinese President Xi Jingping speaks during the opening session of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogues. (Photo Courtesy: AP)
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Why Entering The NSG Group Is Important For India

India is keen on entering the NSG group because it controls nuclear commercial activities and technology transfers in the world. Its membership will also grant India global acceptance as a nuclear-armed power and equal footing with others.

India has the capacity to export nuclear fuel like thorium and supply nuclear technology in the future. That is not possible for a non-NSG state. Also, the membership will give India an edge over Pakistan, handing it a strategic clout to block the latter’s potential bid to enter the grouping.

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India’s NSG application is expected to come up for review at the NSG meeting in Vienna on Thursday and Friday. It has already got the support of major NSG countries, including France, Russia, Britain, Japan, Mexico and the US.

Pakistan has also filed its application but since it doesn’t have support of major powers, it is unlikely to be taken up.

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China Remains a Big Hurdle

If everybody (at the NSG’s Vienna plenary meeting) agrees, it is likely that China may say yes to India’s application.
Arundhati Ghose, former Diplomat

For India, China remains a “big hurdle”, Commodore Uday Bhaskar, president of the Society for Policy Studies, told IANS.

Every country’s vote matters. Both Switzerland and Mexico are very important. But unless China is persuaded, it will be difficult.
Uday Bhaskar
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India continues to receive support from other major NSG countries. (Photo: AP)
India continues to receive support from other major NSG countries. (Photo: AP)
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Arundhati Ghose, a former Indian diplomat who headed the Indian delegation for negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 1996, agreed that it was “difficult” for India to get into the grouping that was established in 1974 post India’s Pokhran nuclear test to prevent the civilian nuclear trade and technology from being used for military ambitions.

Ghose, however, sounded optimistic from an Indian point of view on the grounds that “China doesn’t like to be isolated”.

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The experts rest their hopes on India’s lobbying with America to push Beijing during the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

This is not the first time that India has sought exemption from initialising NPT before joining NSG. In 2008, after hectic lobbying by India with the US, the bloc exempted India from signing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) comprehensive safeguards, thereby allowing New Delhi to engage in nuclear trade with NSG members.

The exemption was given on the basis of certain non-proliferation commitments India had agreed to under the India-US Civilian Nuclear Agreement.

(This article has been published as a special arrangement with IANS)

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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