India’s NSG hopes may again hit Chinese Wall at Vienna meet


NEW DELHI: After refusing to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist despite overwhelming global opinion, India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Grpup (NSG) could run into a Chinese wall at the April 1-2 meeting of the elite group in Vienna.

While China continues to play hardball insisting on India’s NPT status, Austria, Switzerland and Ireland are not yet fully convinced to back India’s case, ET has learnt. India has been engaged with these countries to showcase Delhi’s decades-old track record on non-proliferation.

China has been opposing India’s entry into the 48-member NSG on the ground that India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though the other P5 members, including the US and Russia, backed its case based on Delhi’s non-proliferation record.

USA and Russia have issued separate public statements to strengthen India’s case at the NSG ahead of the Vienna meet. Earlier, both Washington and Moscow in their respective recent joint statements with India have committed to support India’s entry into the 48-member elite group.

The other two P-5 states — France and UK — have also supported India’s case and so has been Australia, several European states, South Korea and some countries from Latin America. Since 2016, India has gained access to MTCR Australia Group and Wassenar Arrangement — rest three export control bodies, minus NSG.

The 2018 meet of 48-member NSG group in Latvia in an indirect reference to India’s membership issue noted “that discussions were continuing on the issue of “Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of the Participation of Non-NPT States in the NSG” initiated at the 2016 Seoul Plenary”.

The NSG further noted that discussions were continuing on the requests for participation that had been submitted, according to a statement that was issued at the end of the meet in Latvia.

Earlier this year, China had stressed that “patient negotiations” were required for Delhi’s admission into the group as there is no precedent for the inclusion of non-NPT countries.

China, France, Russia, Britain and the US — the permanent members of the UNSC also known as P5 countries — had met in Beijing to discuss issues related to nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Briefing the media on the outcome of the conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at the end of the conference that the member countries reached an important consensus to jointly uphold the responsibilities for international peace and security.

Asked whether issues related to India’s application to enter into the NSG figured in the meeting, Geng did not give a direct answer and said “the P5 countries are committed to upholding the NPT mechanism, recognise that it is the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation system”.

After India had applied for the NSG membership few years back, Pakistan too applied for it following which China, a close ally of Islamabad, called for a two-step approach which states that NSG members first need to arrive at a set of principles for the admission of non-NPT states into the group and then move forward discussions of specific cases.

The NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports.