India and Pakistan should together attempt to join the NSG instead of New Delhi mounting a solo bid, the Chinese media said Tuesday, a day after Beijing virtually ruled out Delhi’s inclusion in the elite nuclear trading club.
The latest advice is the clearest sign yet of Beijing yoking New Delhi’s push for the 48-member nuclear suppliers group (NSG), where the entry is through consensus, with that of its “all-weather ally” Pakistan.
China, opposing India’s bid on the grounds that it is not part of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), Monday said New Delhi’s application was not on the agenda when the group holds its annual plenary in Seoul on June 23 and 24.
“I want to point out the NSG agenda has never covered any issue concerning non-NPT countries joining the NSG. As we understand the annual conference in Seoul this year also has no such kind of issue or topic,” Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokesperson said at a news briefing.
As reported by HT, diplomats from other member countries insisted that New Delhi’s candidature would be taken up.
Though officially China has not talked about Pakistan’s bid, Chinese think-tanks and experts have made the Islamabad-angle amply clear.
“While India strives for NSG inclusion, it prevents Pakistan from joining by insisting on the latter’s bad record of nuclear proliferation. Actually, the proliferation carried out by Pakistan was done by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s chief nuclear scientist, and was not an official policy of the Pakistani government,” Long Xingchun, director of the Centre for Indian Studies at China West Normal University, wrote in the state-controlled Global Times newspaper.
Continuing Pakistan’s defence, he said Khan was punished by the government. “If the NPT and the NSG can give India an exemption, it should apply to Pakistan as well.”
India has stayed away from “discriminatory” NPT that classifies the world into the nuclear-haves (the US, and Russia, the UK, France and China) and have-nots (all other countries).
“China and other countries opposed to NSG including India while excluding Pakistan, because it means solving India’s problem but creating another bigger problem. If India joins hands with Pakistan to seek NSG membership, it seems more pragmatic than joining alone,” Long argued.
Since both were non-NPT signatories, their joining the NSG would have negative impact on the group but the impact would be worse if only India joined, Long said.
“If India and Pakistan are allowed to join the NPT and adopt the CTBT, it will tarnish the authority of both. How can nuclear weapon development in other countries such as North Korea, Iran and Israel be dealt with?”
The article argued that though US signed a civil nuclear deal with India and was backing its NSG bid, legitimacy of New Delhi’s “nuclear status” had not been solved.
New Delhi sees the 2008 deal with the US as validation of its non-proliferation credentials.
Long , however, agreed that despite not signing the NPT, India was sticking to NSG guidelines and rigorous policies to prevent nuclear proliferation. “It also meets the last requirement and was admitted to membership of the missile technology control regime early this month.”
Looking to draw similarities, the article argued that like China India, too, advocated non-proliferation and was committed to no-first-use of nuclear weapons. “It could also help enhance bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energies. Measures that can boost mutual trust could be established among China, India and Pakistan, the three nuclear powers in Asia.”
NSG membership will give energy-starved India access to latest and clean energy. A place on the nuclear trading table will also help domestic firms, which have worked in isolation in face of international sanctions, to take their business global.