The world non-proliferation regime would collapse if non-NPT countries such as India were allowed in the nuclear suppliers group, a top Chinese official said in Seoul on Friday, restating Beijing’s opposition to New Delhi’s bid to enter the 48-member bloc.
China understood India’s need for clean energy – an argument that Indian diplomats have put forward to join the nuclear suppliers group – but it was not a challenge unique to the country, Wang Qun, director general of the department of arms control of the foreign ministry, said in an emailed statement.
The remarks come on the day when member countries are expected to take a decision on India’s application after an intense first session on Wednesday left China isolated with other member countries speaking in favour of New Delhi. The two-day NSG plenary ends Friday.
India has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which it says is biased. The NPT recognises only five countries as nuclear weapon states – the US, Russia, the UK, France and China.
“This is also the common challenges confronting the developing countries. We believe that NPT as the only international non-proliferation legal instrument is not at odds with the Paris agreement on climate change. On the contrary, they are mutually reinforcing and supportive,” Wang said.
“China, for its part, understands India’s sentiment on developing nuclear energy to meet climate changes. There are three pillars in the NPT, one of which is to ensure the legitimate rights of country in developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”
India had bilateral cooperation with many member countries and China would help India address its energy needs, he said.
Energy-starved India has set for itself an ambitious goal of sourcing 40% of its power from non-fossil sources and is relying heavily on nuclear energy to meet the target.
Wang counted NPT as a must to enter the elite 48-member nuclear trading club. A new member would have to fulfil five criteria – ranging from technical to legal -- to join the NSG.
“NPT is a must. In other words, the applicant state shall be party to the NPT. This is a rule not set by China, but reaffirmed by the international community. NPT represents the cornerstone of the entire non-proliferation regime,” Wang said.
If exceptions were to be allowed, the international non-proliferation regime would collapse, he said, calling for “innovative” ideas to discuss inclusion of non-NPT countries.
“As for how to address the issue of non-NPT states’ participation, this is a formidable task. Parties are far apart within the group,” he said. The rules of the group, not targeted against any specific countries, should be respected.
China, he said, pushed the group to discuss the issue of non-NPT states’ participation in an innovative format.