India’s bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership will come up on Thursday night at a special post-dinner meeting of the 48-nation grouping’s plenary, whose two-day deliberations began in Seoul.
Although admission of members like India which are not signatories to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is not on the agenda, Japan and some other countries are understood to have raised the matter in the opening session.
Thereafter, it was agreed to consider a number of unscheduled items including India’s application at a special session after dinner, informed sources said.
It was not immediately clear whether the discussion on India’s membership, which is strongly opposed by China, and few other countries will come up informally or in a formal way.
Indian diplomats, led by foreign secretary S Jaishankar, are in Seoul to lobby, although they are not the participants at the plenary in the absence of India’s membership.
The Indian team includes Amandeep Gill, head of ‘Disarmament and International Security’ division in the external affairs ministry.
About 300 participants from 48 member countries are attending the plenary which was preceded by official-level session that began on June 20, according to the South Korean foreign ministry.
While the US and France have issued statements ahead of the plenary strongly supporting India’s case and asking members to back New Delhi, China has been unrelenting in its opposition harping on the need to have a criteria for non-NPT countries like India and clubbing India’s case with that of Pakistan for which it is batting.
Roughly 20 countries are backing India’s case fully but given that the decisions in NSG are taken by consensus, India faces an uphill task.
India is seeking a membership of the NSG to enable it to trade in and export nuclear technology.
The access to the NSG, which regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for energy-starved India, which has an ambitious energy generation programme. India is looking at 63,000 MW energy requirement through nuclear programme by 2030.
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.