India's membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is "not merited until the country meets the group's standards", a New York Times (NYT) editorial said on Saturday.

The NSG is a 48-nation club dedicated to curbing nuclear arms proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that could foster nuclear weapons development.

The group's membership has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty but India has refused to do so, which means "it has not accepted legally binding commitments to pursue disarmament negotiations, halt the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and not test nuclear weapons".

US President Barack Obama could take advantage of the US-India ties and push for India's adherence to nuclear proliferation standards.

However, the US has for years "sought to bend the rules for India's nuclear programme" to maintain a cooperative relationship to counter growing Chinese influence in the region, and Obama has been lobbying for India to gain NSG membership, the editorial said.

As part of a 2008 deal signed with the US during the Bush era, India promised it would be "ready to assume the same responsibilities and practices" as other member states, but has fallen short by continuing to produce fissile material and expand its nuclear arsenal, the NYT said.

If India is successful in gaining entry to the group, it could keep Pakistan from gaining membership because group decisions are made through consensus.

"That could give Pakistan, which at one time provided nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran, new incentives to misbehave," the NYT said.

However, the NYT said, China's opposition to India could doom the South Asian power's bid for membership "for now".

The editorial goes on to say that India should be required to meet the NSG's standards, "including opening negotiations with Pakistan and China on curbing nuclear weapons and halting the production of nuclear fuel for bombs".



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