Beijing: China is leading opposition to a push by the United States and other major powers for India to join the main club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology, diplomats said on Thursday as the group discussed India’s membership bid.
The 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) trades in advanced nuclear material and technology while restricting the sale of items that can be used to make nuclear arms. After meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House, President Barack Obama pledged America’s backing for India to be given a seat in the NSG. “China, if anything, is hardening (its position),” said an unnamed diplomat to news agency Reuters.
A decision on India is not expected before an NSG plenary meeting in Seoul on June 20, but diplomats say Washington has been pressuring hold-outs, and today’s closed-door meeting in Vienna was a chance to see how strong opposition is. US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote to members asking them “not to block consensus on Indian admission to the NSG” according to a letter quoted by news agency Reuters. Other than China, countries opposing Indian membership include New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria, diplomats said.
India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, even though India has developed atomic weapons and never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact. China has shown no sign of backing down from its opposition to India joining unless Pakistan also becomes a member. That would be unacceptable to many, given Pakistan’s track record — the father of its nuclear weapons programme sold nuclear secrets to countries including North Korea and Iran.