China Opposes India’s Bid To Join NSG

China opposed a push by the United States and other major powers for India to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group as an American media outlet reported on Thursday US Secretary of State John Kerry has suggested that India would be willing to cooperate on Pakistan’s admission to the club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology.

Pakistan submitted an application for joining the NSG in Vienna last month, after it became obvious that the US and other world powers were lobbying for admitting India into the group.

Bloomberg News reported that Mr Kerry made the suggestion in a letter he sent to member-countries of the NSG, which seeks to prevent proliferation by regulating nuclear trade.

Meanwhile, a US official told a briefing that the United States wants India to join the group this month, as the NSG convened a special session in Vienna on Thursday to discuss membership applications from India and Pakistan.

Mr Kerry urged the NSG members to “agree not to block consensus on Indian admission,” Bloomberg News reported based on a two-page letter dated June 3, which it had accessed.

Mr Kerry wrote that “India has shown strong support for the objectives of the NSG and the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and is a ‘like-minded’ state deserving of NSG admission”.

In the same letter, he also indicated India’s willingness to be lenient to Pakistan’s application to also join the group.

“With respect to other possible new members of the NSG, Indian officials have stated that India would take a merit-based approach to such applications and would not be influenced by extraneous regional issues,” he wrote.

Consideration on merit

“The United States believes each application should be considered individually on its merits and according to the NSG’s factors for consideration. The prospective membership of one country should not affect that of another,” a US State Department official told Dawn when asked if Mr Kerry’s letter indicated a softness in attitudes towards admitting Pakistan into the NSG.

“The president (Obama has) reiterated the United States’ strong support for India’s application to join the NSG, re-affirmed that India is ready for membership, and called on participating governments to support India’s application at the plenary later this month,” the official added.

Secretary Kerry sent the letter a week before the NSG’s special session, which precedes the annual plenary of the 48-nation group in Seoul, South Korea, on June 23-24.

“It is our strong objective to see India in the NSG, voted in this plenary which is later this month,” said a senior US official while briefing the media on US-India relations.

“That was the objective that President (Obama) and Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) shared, and all efforts are being made to try to achieve that objective,” he said while referring to the June 7 White House meeting between the two leaders.

Pakistan fears that if India joined first, it would never allow Islamabad to join the group, as admitting a new member requires consensus of all member states.

China’s stance

China also has used this consensus clause to oppose India’s application, saying that like Pakistan and Israel, India too had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and had developed atomic weapons. India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington.

The Chinese argue that giving an exception to India is discriminatory and Pakistan should also be allowed to benefit from this exception.

“One will have to wait and see, for sure,” said the US official when asked if India would become a member during this plenary or the decision would be referred to the next plenary in 2017.

The official was one of the three who briefed the media on the outcome of the Obama-Modi meeting but none of them can be identified under the briefing rules.

The official explained that besides the NSG, the US wanted India to join “all the other export control regimes” as well.

The US official noted that during Mr Modi’s three-day visit to Washington this week, India also became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The US played a key role in enabling India to do so.

Joining the regime would allow other MTCR members to justify transferring sensitive technology to India and they would not face US sanctions if they do so.

“I would note that China is not a member of the MTCR, so China had no opportunity to express any reservations in that regard,” said the US official noted.

But as an NSG member, China is leading opposition to the push by the US and other major powers for India to join the group.

Other countries opposing India include New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria.

Mexico and Switzerland had also opposed the Indian application but Mr Modi visited both countries during a five-nation tour this week and succeeded in winning them over.

Several US media outlets also warned the Obama administration not to back India’s bid to join the NSG as it would undermine efforts to prevent proliferation. They noted that isolating Pakistan could accelerate the nuclear race in South Asia, as Pakistan may respond to the legitimization of India’s nuclear position by strengthening its own.

Courtesy: DAWN News

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