China on Tuesday said it is willing to work out a process that will allow countries such as India which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to become members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Beijing again proposed the “two-step” approach – first, find an universal way to allow non-NPT signatories to become NSG members and then discuss country-specific applications.
A day after Indian and Chinese officials held talks on New Delhi’s bid to join the NSG, which was blocked in June by a campaign seen to be spearheaded by Beijing, the foreign ministry said a “solution” was needed so that all non-NPT countries could join the 48-member bloc that controls trade in key nuclear technologies.
It is mandatory for countries to join the NPT for getting into the NSG, and China has repeatedly said allowing India into the group will trigger a collapse of the non-proliferation regime.
Following the bitterness over China’s decision, the two countries decided to hold bilateral talks on the issue. The first round of talks was held in New Delhi on September 13 while Monday’s talks took place in Beijing.
Amandeep Singh Gill, joint secretary for disarmament and international security, led the Indian side while the Chinese side was led by Wang Qun, director general of the department of arms control.
“The talks were substantive and constructive. The engagement will continue as per the directive of the leadership,” a source said following the talks.
On Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the two delegations “exchanged views on enlargement of the NSG and other relevant issues”.
“On India’s accession to the NSG, I can tell you that China’s position is very clear and consistent,” Hua said when asked to comment on the talks at a regular news briefing. She then qualified her statement, indicating the two side may have made headway in resolving the stalemate.
“China attaches importance to the accession of non-NPT members into the NSG. We will carry out relevant work based on the Seoul General Assembly (which was held in June) and the inter-governmental process that is open and transparent,” she said.
Hua added: “We will seek a solution that applies to all non-NPT countries and then we will discuss the specific application of relevant non-NPT country. We are willing to keep communication and contact with India in this regard.”
China had issued a similar statement at the end of the first round of NSG talks on September 13, when it first proposed the “two-step” formula.
“China has hitherto not yet taken a position on any country-specific membership in the category of the non-NPT states. And China supports the notion of two-step approach within the group to address the above question, ie, at the first stage, to explore and reach agreement on a non-discriminatory formula applicable to all the non-NPT states, and to proceed to take up country-specific membership issues at the second stage,” an official statement had said.