China said on Monday it is ready to continue discussions on new entrants to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) but is unaware of a facilitator being appointed to look into India’s application to join the elite club.
Many countries have differing views and consensus has to be forged before new countries can be admitted, Beijing said.
Last week, China was among a handful of countries that opposed India’s entry to the NSG, which controls access to sensitive nuclear technology, because New Delhi has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
During the group’s annual plenary meeting in Seoul, China said India’s entry to the group will destabilise the non-proliferation regime.
Indian diplomats, however, said India’s hopes were not over and an informal panel led by Argentine envoy Rafael Grossi had been set up to study New Delhi’s application and entry into the group. A special NSG meeting could be held later this year to look at the issue, unnamed officials told media in New Delhi.
But China said it wasn’t aware of any such move.
“We have never heard about any other follow-up steps,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told a regular news briefing when he was asked about the facilitator’s appointment.
China, Hong said, is ready to continue discussions on admitting non-NPT members to the NSG.
“For quite a long time, including in this plenary meeting, China has been promoting the NSG to have thorough discussions on accession of non-NPT countries,” he said.
“As we have learned, the plenary meeting issued a news release saying the meeting held discussions on technical, legal and political issues regarding accession of non-NPT countries and agreed to continue with such discussions.”
Hong added that differences existed among NSG members on allowing the entry of non-NPT members.
“As far as we know, in the NSG plenary meeting held in Seoul, many countries expressed their views on accession of non-NPT countries into the group. They believe they should forge a consensus and then make a declaration based on consultations and thorough discussions regarding the entry of a specific country,” he said.
The enlargement of NSG “is a formidable task and parties are far apart within the group,” Wang Qun, director general of the department of arms control of the Chinese foreign ministry, said in Seoul.
Wang said China's approach is two-fold - the NSG's rules should be respected as they do not target any countries, and innovative ideas are called for to forge consensus. “To this end, China had pushed the NSG to conduct informal discussions under the Argentina chairmanship,” he added.
Wang had added that China understood India's sentiment on developing nuclear energy to cope with climate change, adding this was a common challenge confronting developing countries.
Noting that India has bilateral cooperation with many NSG members in nuclear energy, Wang said that subject to India's needs, China too stands ready to explore cooperation in this field to help India address its nuclear energy needs.
“The Chinese official also pointed out that NPT is not at odds with the Paris Agreement on climate change, and on the contrary, they are mutually reinforcing and supportive,” wang was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.