India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group is expected to be deliberated upon by the atomic trading club at its June plenary in Seoul as a meeting in Vienna on India’s bid remained inconclusive.
Though the US was strongly pushing India’s case and most member countries supported it, it was China which opposed the bid arguing that the NSG should not relax specific criteria for new applicants. The NSG controls access to sensitive nuclear technology.
A number of countries, which were initially opposed to India’s bid on the ground that it was yet to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), eased their positions and were ready to work out a compromise. However, China stuck to its position.
In the meeting, China did not openly oppose India’s membership directly but linked it to signing of NPT.
The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle the country’s bid.
Besides China, the member countries in the 48-nation group which were opposed to India’s membership were New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria.
Sources in Vienna said that chair of the NSG has taken note of views expressed by member countries and will list the matter for further discussion at NSG plenary scheduled to be held in Seoul on June 24.
It is understood India was hopeful of getting support from China as it had supported India’s case in 2008 when India got a waiver from the NSG to allow US’ nuclear trade with India.
India has asserted that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG as there has been a precedent in this regard, citing the case of France.
On Thursday, Mexico backed India’s NSG bid during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Mexican support followed that of the US and Switzerland. Japan too has expressed its support for India’s inclusion in the grouping.
The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership of the grouping will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector.
US has been pushing for India’s membership. Ahead of the meeting in Vienna, US Secretary of State John Kerry had written a letter to the NSG member countries which are not supportive of India’s bid, saying they should “agree not to block consensus on Indian admission”.
A joint statement issued after talks between Modi and Obama said the US called on NSG participating governments to support India’s application when it comes up at the NSG plenary in June.