United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he would “help out” Delhi in its quest for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Modi and Guterres met in Biarritz on the sidelines of the G-7 summit.
In 2016, India had tried to push through its membership bid to the NSG, the most elite export control regime in the world, but China had blocked entry, saying that it is not a signatory to the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty).
Delhi has lobbied hard with other members, and has got approval from all major countries barring China. It has established a mechanism to consult with Beijing’s negotiators on nuclear issues, but, though they meet once every year, there has been no headway in the past three years.
Guterres’s efforts may open a new window for India. It may be recalled that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar played a key role in pushing for the NSG membership when he was Foreign Secretary. With him at the helm now, the issue is likely to get a fresh boost.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said that when the UN Secretary General talked about thermal power plants in India, Modi drew his attention to India’s focus on renewable energy, and, in this context, referred to “nuclear power”. He told Guterres that NSG membership is “crucial for investors’ confidence” — this has been one of India’s main arguments.
“He (Guterres) understood India’s position” and said he would “help out in the matter”, said Gokhale.
Modi, he said, had a brief meeting with the UN Secretary General, in which the main agenda was Modi’s participation in the climate summit in New York next month. He said Guterres was “very enthusiastic” about Modi’s leadership on climate change issues.
Modi spoke of the campaign against “single-use plastic”, and his new initiative — Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure — to be launched next month. In this regard, Modi talked about the need to have a pool of trained volunteers.