China said on Sunday India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was not even discussed at the just-concluded meeting of the elite club of nuclear-trading nations in Vienna. It added more talks were needed to build a consensus on the issue.
The 48-country NSG controls access to nuclear technology, which India needs to meet its increasing power requirements. India’s inclusion is supported by the US, which is trying to convince other countries to support its bid.
China once again tried to clear the air on its stand, saying that it had a uniform view of non-NPT members – which includes Pakistan – joining the NSG. The official statement added several other countries supported its stand, indicating that many were against India joining the bloc.
“The NSG Chair Argentine ambassador convened an unofficial meeting on June 9. There was no deliberation on any items related to the accession to the NSG by India or any other countries that are not signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said in a statement published online.
China has been fronting the effort to block India’s accession to the NSG and is supported by New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey and Austria. Their broad argument: India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT) treaty and if New Delhi is allowed to join the NSG, it could set a precedent for other non-NPT countries to argue for inclusion.
China’s perceived anti-India stand on the issue is seen to be hinged on its cozy ties with “all-weather ally” Pakistan, which also wants an NSG membership.
But Islamabad joining the NSG is also opposed by several countries mostly because as Reuters pointed out: “The scientist that headed its nuclear weapons programme ran an illicit network for years that sold nuclear secrets to countries, including North Korea and Iran”.
Also, despite not being part of the NPT, China has helped Pakistan to build nuclear plants.
“The chair said that this meeting has no agenda and is only convened to heed opinions from all parties on the outreach of the NSG and prepare for a report to be submitted at the NSG Plenary Meeting in Seoul later this month,” Hong said.
Hong reiterated China’s stand on the issue.
“When it comes to the accession by non-NPT countries, China maintains that the group should have full discussion before forging consensus and making decisions based on agreement. The NPT provides a political and legal foundation for the international non-proliferation regime as a whole,” Hong said.
“China’s position applies to all non-NPT countries and targets no one in particular. The fact is that many countries within the group also share China’s stance.”
Hong said NSG members are divided about including “non-NPT countries” in the group.
“Looking forward, China will continue to support further discussion within the group to forge consensus at an early date,” Hong said.