Members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group could not reach a consensus on Thursday over India’s entry to the elite club controlling trade in technology, with nations including Brazil opposing the induction of those who had not signed the non-proliferation treaty.
Brazil, Austria, New Zealand, Ireland and Turkey opposed India’s induction into the 48-member group, according to television reports.
India’s application was not on the main agenda of the plenary, but sources said that Japan raised the issue in the opening session of the two-day meet in Seoul. It was later decided that the matter would be discussed at the planned post-dinner special session.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier sought President Xi Jinping’s support for India’s entry into the NSG, saying China should make a “fair and objective” assessment of India’s candidature.
The action centred around Tashkent, where Modi met Xi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Corporation Organisation (SCO) summit, and Seoul, where the two-day plenary began on Thursday.
In Tashkent, During his 45-minute meeting with Xi, Modi said China should “join and contribute” to the emerging consensus among NSG members on India’s application to join the 48-member group, according to the external affairs ministry.
“Prime Minister Modi urged China to make a fair and objective assessment of India’s application and judge it on its own merit,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters.
Sources said Modi spoke about how India’s entry into the NSG will strengthen the global non-proliferation regime. His meeting with Xi was his first engagement in Tashkent and he also spoke at length about India’s strong non-proliferation credentials.
There was no official word on the response from Xi, who assured Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain shortly before the meeting with Modi that China will adopt a “criteria-based approach” for NSG membership that will support Islamabad’s candidature.
India’s all-out push to convince China coincided with the NSG plenary in Seoul considering India’s membership. Foreign secretary S Jaishankar arrived in the South Korean capital on Wednesday to make a last-minute push for India’s application.
The NSG members were holding a special session on Thursday night to discuss India’s case, which has been endorsed by key powers such as the US, Britain, Russia and Japan.
China has stalled the issue by saying membership of the NSG should be limited to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). India and China’s “all-weather ally” Pakistan, which too is seeking membership of the NSG, have not signed the NPT.
China has already de-linked its position on NSG membership from its ties with India.
“We believe that with regard to the admission of new members a decision shall be made with through discussion within the group. We do not believe that it (Beijing’s position on admitting new members to the NSG) is an issue concerning the bilateral relationship between China and India,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said ahead of Modi’s meeting with Xi.
During his meeting with Xi, Pakistan President Hussain thanked China for its unequivocal support for Pakistan’s bid to gain entry to the NSG. Hussain suggested Pakistan and India should be included in the elite club at the same time.
Xi assured Hussain that “China would adopt criteria-based approach on the issue of NSG, which would support Pakistan’s case”, Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said.
Hussain said “any exception given for NSG membership could disturb strategic stability in South Asia”. Xi said Pakistan and China are “iron brothers” that “enjoy an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership”.
“Both sides reiterated support to each other’s core interests and expressed their intention to maintain close coordination,” said a statement from Pakistan’s foreign office.