The US has reiterated its backing for India’s candidature for the Nuclear Suppliers Group after China defended its move to block India’s entry on the ground that it had not signed on to a key global non-proliferation treaty.
Reports have suggested China is acting at the behest of its key ally Pakistan to block India’s efforts to join the 48-nation bloc, a move that will make it easier to access nuclear technology and know-how.
“I’d point you back to what (President Barack Obama) said during his visit to India in 2015, where he reaffirmed that the US view was that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership,” state department spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday.
He was responding to a question on the reports that China and Pakistan have come together to oppose India’s candidature for the NSG.
“Deliberations about the prospects of new members joining the NSG are an internal matter among current members,” he said. ““I’m going to refer you to the governments of China and Pakistan with respect to their positions on India’s membership.”
Earlier on Friday, China said several members of the NSG shared its view that signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is an “important standard” for membership of the bloc.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China and other NSG members believe the NPT is the cornerstone for safeguarding the global non-proliferation regime. He was responding to a question about reports that China is linking India’s membership of the NSG to Pakistan’s entry.
The NSG is an important part of NPT, and this has been the consensus of the world community, he said. Though India is not part of the NSG, it recognises this consensus, he added.
“All the multilateral non-proliferation export control regimes, including the NSG, has regarded NPT as an important standard for the expansion of the NSG,” he said.
Without making any reference to Pakistan, Lu said: “Apart from India, lot of other countries expressed their willingness to join. Then it raised the question to the international community - shall the non-NPT members also become part of the NSG?
“The international community believes that there should be a side discussion in the NSG on this issue and decision should be made in accordance with relevant rules. China’s position is not directed against any specific country but applies to all the non-NPT members.
India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan are all UN members that have not signed the NPT, which is aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
Last month, Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz said Beijing has helped Islamabad to stall New Delhi’s bid to become a NSG member.
China’s role in blocking India’s efforts to become a NSG member became apparent during the NSG Consultative Group’s meeting on April 25 and 26. When India requested a session with NSG participating governments at the meeting to make a formal presentation in support of its membership, Pakistan too sought a similar opportunity.
US officials have expressed their disappointment at China’s “either both or none” strategy.
(With inputs from agencies)