India seeks to significantly boost domestic nuclear energy production with the support of foreign firms, while also underscoring the need for certainty in international trading norms.
Membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) can meet these conditions and India, which has been lobbying to garner international support for the same, is confident that most countries will endorse its stake, Union Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said on Monday.
Delivering the keynote address at the Gateway of India Dialogue, Jaishankar also hinted at India’s willingness to align with international standards to reach its objective of increased civil nuclear energy production.
“These large anticipated investments in the nuclear energy sector can, however, only happen in a climate of predictability. In particular, it would require greater certainty of trading rules and technology access,” he said. “A stronger Indian nuclear industry could help make nuclear power more competitive globally.”
“It is also in the larger interest that our practices are in conformity with global ones,” he added.
The race for membership to the NSG has intensified with Pakistan staking claim for an entry into the 48-nation group that effectively controls the sale and use of nuclear equipment and fissile material technology.
India has conveyed to China, a member whose support will be key in its NSG ambitions, that the membership claim does not have a geopolitical dimension, but is a mandatory technical requirement in New Delhi’s quest for clean nuclear energy. A final decision on the issue is likely to be taken at the plenary meeting of the group in Seoul later this month.
China has asked for a discussion on the process for entry of non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) members, such as India and Pakistan, even as a majority of the group members favour India’s entry.
New Delhi, however, remains optimistic. In response to a query on whether India was hopeful of China’s endorsement, Jaishankar quipped: “Diplomacy is an optimistic profession.”
While India has always strived to build energy security, recent efforts have focused on renewable energy in line with the country’s commitment to shift to 40% non-fossil power generation capacity by 2030. It is this commitment that has India pushing for greater nuclear power generation.
Jaishankar also pointed out the connection between business and diplomacy, saying business has driven national and group strategies over the course of human history.
“The issue is less about correlation and more of the extent of centrality of business to the formulation of strategy. Indian experience since independence reveals that the growing salience of business at home is reflected abroad as well,” he said. “An era of greater state control and direction obviously had its own particular brand of diplomacy. With changing times and higher growth, a new mindset gradually came into place.”
“There is a sharper realisation that the real strengths of any nation are primarily economic,” he added.