US reaffirms support for India’s NSG membership

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: May 28, 2016 21:38 IST
The nuclear warhead-capable Agni-II missile has a range of 2,500km. (HC Tiwari/ HT File Photo )

The United States has said its support for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is about “peaceful civil use of nuclear energy”, and is not meant to fuel a nuclear race.

“This is not about an arms race and it’s not about nuclear weapons,” state department spokesman Mark Toner said on Friday in response to a reporter’s question at the daily briefing.

“This is about the peaceful civil use of nuclear energy, and so we would certainly hope that Pakistan understands that,” he added.

The NSG, a group of 48 countries allowed to sell and buy nuclear fuel and equipment, is scheduled to consider India’s application for membership later next month.

The US has backed India’s bid for membership of the NSG.

Referring to President Barack Obama’s India visit in 2015, Toner said he “did (then) affirm the US view that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for membership”.

Pakistan, which also sought membership of the NSG, hasn’t had much success rounding up support, including that of the most important player in the group — the United States.

Read | After China’s red flag, US backs India’s entry into nuclear club

Asked if the US would support Pakistan’s application for membership, Toner said: “They have made public their interest, and certainly any country can submit its application for membership. And we’ll consider based on a consensus decision.”

The US is understood to have offered to discuss the NSG membership with Pakistan, according to multiple news reports in 2015, in exchange for Islamabad capping its nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan, which is on course to build the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal in a decade, rejected that offer outright.

Read | China ‘coordinating’ with Pakistan to block India’s entry into NSG

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