Washington: The outgoing Obama administration has lashed out at China for blocking India’s entry to the nuclear suppliers group, describing the Communist giant as an “outlier” in its effort to bring New Delhi on board on board the elite grouping.
“Clearly there is one outlier that needs to be addressed and that is China,” Nisha Desai Biswal, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, told new agency PTI in an interview.
The statement comes a week ahead of the Donald Trump taking over as the 45th US president.
Officials say it is because of the Chinese resistance that India could not join the NSG, where all decisions are taken by consensus. An exclusive club of 48 countries, NSG controls the global trade in civil nuclear technology.
“The (US) President (Barack Obama) has been very clear and unequivocal that he believes that India has met the criteria for NSG and that the United States supports India’s entry that India is ready and India should be brought into the NSG,” she said.
The US worked closely with India but it also recognised that there were some concerns and reservations among some members that needed to be worked through, she said.
“We believe we have made substantial progress on that and as we hand the baton over to the next administration the path forward will be found for that. Clearly there is one outlier that needs to be addressed and that is China,” Biswal said.
She talked about the need to have a very clear understanding of China’s reservations and to try to work through those.
While India not getting NSG membership was disappointing, Biswal said the Obama administration was “very very gratified to see India’s entry into the missile technology control regime (MTCR)”.
China has called for a two-step “non-discriminatory” approach for admission of countries that are not part of the nuclear-non proliferation treaty regime.
Beijing said in November it first wanted to find a solution applicable to the admission of all non-NPT members followed by discussions on admitting specific non-NPT members.
China’s stand is significant as Pakistan, the “all-weather ally” of Beijing, too, has applied for the NSG membership.
“And so I think, the next administration coming in for all of those reasons would continue to prioritise the relationship with India,” she said, adding strategic convergence was the key highlight of the India-US relationship during the Obama administration.
She said there was a lot to talk about “easily visible and definable” objectives but the quality that was less visible to the outside eye was the fundamental shift “in how we see each other on our strategic relationship. “… and the fact that a secretary of state will pick up the phone immediately on important issues, oh, I have got to check in with my Indian counterpart on this issue and make sure that it is ok with them. That’s what I have hoped would transpire and that’s where we are today,” she said.
Indian-Americans, Biswal said, played a key role in the bilateral relationship by bringing greater understanding and support for the ties.
“I think there will be prominent Indian-Americans that I am sure will play that role for the next administration as well,” she said.