New Delhi: India will have another chance to push for its entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), as the 48-member grouping is meeting in Bern, the Swiss capital, next month. Even though the chances of any breakthrough look slim, given China’s persistent opposition, India will redouble its efforts over the next few days, highlighting its non-proliferation record.
Of late, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made acquiring membership of the NSG the single-most critical foreign policy priority for his government. While China says that its reservation was not targeted against India, it calls for setting up definite criteria for non-NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) members rather granting specific waivers. India’s membership was discussed at the Seoul plenary session of the NSG in June last year.
Official sources here say that India has renewed its efforts to become a member by engaging with all member countries. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is hoping to get strong backing of key players such as the US, the UK, France and Russia. China has been pressing for a two-step process, which includes setting up criteria a standard for admission for the inclusion of countries that are not signatories to the NPT. Beijing also equates India’s case with Pakistan, which, too, has applied for NSG membership.
Indicating that there was no change in China’s position towards India’s NSG bid, the Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi Luo Zhaohui had said at an event last month, “On the NSG issue, we do not oppose any country’s membership, believing that a standard for admission should be agreed upon first.” India has repeatedly said that China is the “one country” which has been blocking its bid.
The two sides conducted two rounds of talks between China’s nuclear negotiator Wang Qun and India’s then secretary for disarmament Amandeep Singh Gill on September 13 and October 31 last year.