No entry in NSG: India blames one country (China), others said no too

The Chinese chief negotiator at the NSG told reporters in Seoul that the group would not bend the rules and allow India membership as it had not signed the NPT.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: June 25, 2016 3:57 am
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IN A major setback, India’s ambitious bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) failed on Friday, as China and at least seven other countries blocked consensus at the elite group which controls transfer of nuclear technology in the world. The NSG cited Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the “cornerstone” of the international non-proliferation regime, but India said the NPT issue had been addressed in 2008 itself, when it got the country-specific waiver.

The Indian Express has learnt that Mexico also pressed for a “criteria-based process” for allowing non-NPT members into the NSG, along with Switzerland, Brazil and Turkey. What has surprised many in New Delhi is Mexico and Switzerland’s stand since both countries had promised support during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit a few weeks ago. Brazil was also a surprise since India counted it in its “support column” as both countries have shared interests in climate change and energy needs and are part of groupings like IBSA and BRICS.

Turkey was the only country to push for clubbing both India and Pakistan’s applications directly, while Pakistan’s application was not discussed at all.

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Leading the naysayers was China, along with three countries which have strong positions on nuclear non-proliferation — Ireland, Austria and New Zealand. While Modi visited Ireland last year to solicit its support, President Pranab Mukherjee sought New Zealand’s support during his visit last month. Modi also met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent on Thursday, where he asked him to “contribute to the evolving consensus”.

However, sources told The Indian Express that the NSG plenary in Seoul concluded with the possibility of a “special plenary” — likely in November this year — to discuss the issues related to entry of non-NPT members into the elite 48-nation group.

Reiterating their primacy to the NPT, the NSG plenary in Seoul, in its public statement on Friday, said the “participating governments reiterated their firm support for the full, complete and effective implementation of the NPT as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime.”

It said “the NSG had discussions on the issue of technical, legal and political aspects of the participation of non-NPT states in the NSG and decided to continue its discussion”, indicating the possibility of “informal consultations” followed by a special plenary later this year.

A disappointed New Delhi, which invested considerable amount of political capital on the bid and was seen to have underestimated the opposition, singled out “one country” which, it said, raised hurdles persistently — an oblique reference to China. This kind of finger-pointing is considered rather unusual in diplomatic statements made by countries.

“We understand that despite procedural hurdles persistently raised by one country, a three-hour-long discussion took place last night on the issue of future participation in the NSG. An overwhelming number of those who took the floor supported India’s membership and appraised India’s application positively. We thank each and every one of them. It is also our understanding that the broad sentiment was to take this matter forward,” the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson, Vikas Swarup, said in Tashkent, where he was accompanying the Prime Minister for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

New Delhi tried to downplay the countries which raised issues of criteria-based process. “It is also our understanding that most countries want an early decision. A few countries raised issues regarding the process for India’s participation in the NSG. It is self-evident that process issues would not arise if these countries were actually opposed to our participation. This is corroborated by our own bilateral engagement with each of these countries,” said Swarup.

“The NSG concluded its plenary meeting in Seoul today (June 24). India was of course not in the room. But we understand from our friends and well-wishers that discussions on expansion of membership, or what is called “participation” in NSG, were certainly not hypothetical,” he said.

He stressed that though India made its application for membership on May 12, it had begun its engagement with the NSG in 2004. “It has been suggested that India’s participation in the NSG requires it to join the NPT. Our stand on the NPT is well known. But let me underline that in September 2008, the NSG itself addressed this issue. Paragraph 1 (a) of the September 2008 decision states that the decision on India contributes to the ‘widest possible implementation of the provisions and objectives of the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons’. There is thus no contradiction between the NPT and India’s closer engagement with the NSG,” said the MEA spokesperson.

While New Delhi said that an early decision on its application remains in larger global interest and India’s participation in the NSG will further strengthen nuclear non-proliferation and make global nuclear commerce more secure, China had a different take.

The Chinese chief negotiator at the NSG told reporters in Seoul that the group would not bend the rules and allow India membership as it had not signed the NPT. “Applicant countries must be signatories of the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Wang Qun, the head of arms control department in China’s foreign ministry, was quoted as saying by Reuters in Seoul.

“This is a pillar, not something that China set. It is universally recognised by the international community,” said Wang according to a statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry on Friday.

“International rules will have to be respected, big or small,” Wang told Reuters. “Big like NPT. Small like the rules and procedures of this group… The important question of which we are concerned, is how to deal with the question of participation of countries within the group of non-NPT states. It’s a formidable task,” he said.


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  1. B
    Jun 25, 2016 at 5:52 am
    Bandarke ke haat pe nariyal dene se keya feyda
    1. Chopra TP
      Jun 25, 2016 at 6:37 am
      Being responsible and nice isn't going to get India anything. Be hard nosed and demand UNSC or NSG in exchange for Paris climate Agreement. India can not meet its green energy needs if it is denied Nuclear energy access. This discriminatory treatment towards India has to stop;br/gt;Also NSG will invite a nation to join when the costs of keeping it out are clear — e.g., if India refuses to Sign Paris Climate agreement and starts making nuclear exports to other non NSG Nations.
      1. A
        A Santhosh
        Jun 25, 2016 at 9:54 pm
        Though China placed a road block for India there is little hope with US said in faint words that India should get NSG by this yr end . Also I read somewhere that someone got appointed as envoy to look after India's NSG bid. Mean while to calm down nations anger atleast govt kept the ban on milk products imported from china some phone too. But we need to ban some more chinese products to give them a little jolt . As britain exist from EU , chinese market is facing loses . Its time to hit them back. Also we should now invite dalai lama to some seminar .
        1. S
          Sudeep Sharma
          Jun 25, 2016 at 3:10 am
          barbARYAN trait: First begging. If the alms are not given, then abuse the potential alms giver.
          1. A
            Jun 25, 2016 at 5:16 am
            NO UN permanant seat and NSG membership to India is a one way good thing. Our leaders have to understand that we let the emotions stay aside and magnify our political writ. Lets stop illegal Chinese imports and increase co-operation to 6 nations opposing China in south China sea. Bring Tibet on table and push for Balochista freedom. The freedom we have without NSG is our strength, let our scientists carry the torch of our advancements and not some group of nations who want to monopolize their politics through NSG. NSG failed because of their inability to throw out rogue nations who allowed proliferation. Switzerland, Swiden, China have helped stan to develop its nukes. Their compliance record should be validated.
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