As Prime Minister Narendra Modi is headed to the US, Portugal and the Netherlands later this week, New Delhi is looking at securing unequivocal commitment and support from these countries for India’s membership at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). While the US expressed support for India’s membership under the Obama administration, New Delhi wants a declaration and reaffirmation of support from the new administration under President Donald Trump.
“The American administration has indicated that there is no change in their position on India’s application to become a member of the NSG. So, we would like to have a reaffirmation of the support by the administration during the visit,” a top government source told The Indian Express.
With the US government backing out of Paris climate accord, Delhi is keen to get reaffirmation of commitment on NSG. One of India’s key arguments for its NSG membership has been its commitment to abide by the Paris pact.
However, ahead of this year’s NSG plenary session in Bern, heavylifting by the American administration has not been witnessed, unlike last year when the plenary was in Seoul. The then Obama administration had actively engaged with foreign governments and sought support for India’s membership.
India too has maintained a low profile and has not talked up expectations, unlike last time when a diplomatic blitzkrieg was at play in Seoul with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar present in the South Korean capital while the NSG was discussing India’s application.
Despite India’s entreaties, Beijing had remained unmoved, and insisted on a criteria-based approach for the non-NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) signatory countries. Its position has not changed this time as well, despite several meetings over the last one year.
Some other countries, including Turkey, Switzerland, Mexico and New Zealand, were among those which have stressed on the criteria-based approach, without opposing India’s application outright. So, if last year the government had included Switzerland and Mexico on the Prime Minister’s schedule when he had visited the US in June, this year, sources said, one of the key factors behind making Portugal and the Netherlands as “working visits” by the PM was that both are NSG members.
“They are on board but it is good to establish contact with member countries through a high-level visit at the PM’s level,” a key government functionary said. Portugal had in January expressed its support during Portuguese PM Antonio Costa’s visit to India. The Netherlands has also expressed its support for India’s entry into export-control regimes, including the NSG.