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NSG to take up Pakistan, India’s membership requests this week

Updated Jun 20, 2016 07:54am

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WASHINGTON: The Nuclear Sup­pliers Group’s 2016 annual plenary, which begins in Seoul on Monday, is expected to have a far-reaching impact on South Asia’s future.

During its session, the NSG would take up membership requests from both India and Pakistan on June 23-24.

Pakistan submitted its membership application on May 19, a week after India, which applied on May 12, the day New Delhi resumed nuclear weapons testing in 1998. The NSG was formed in 1974, in response to India’s first nuclear test, to prevent further proliferation.

But now India is a favourite to join this 48-nation group, with an active support from the United States, Russia, Britain, France and other world powers.

China, however, is strongly resisting the Indian application, arguing that it would enhance a nuclear competition in South Asia by isolating Pakistan. China wants the group to admit Pakistan as well, pointing out that both India and Pakistan possessed nuclear weapons and had not signed the NPT.

While China may not force the NSG to admit Pakistan, it can block India as new members are admitted with a consensus of the existing members.

The NSG is one of the main tools for controlling the exports and proliferation of materials that could potentially be used in making weapons of mass destruction. It also tacks the black market trade of nuclear technologies.

Pakistan fears that if India becomes a member, it would use the consensus clause to prevent Pakistan from ever joining the group. Pakistan also fears that joining the NSG would increase India’s access to nuclear technology, which could also enhance its weapons programme, even if indirectly.

After a June 7 meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House, US President Barack Obama welcomed India’s application to join NSG, and re-affirmed that New Delhi was ready for membership.

“The United States called on NSG participating governments to support India’s application when it comes up at the NSG plenary later this month,” said a joint statement issued after the meeting.

But some opinion makers, legislators and nuclear experts warned the Obama administration not to push forward India’s application.

“India’s membership of the NSG is not merited until the country meets the group’s standards,” wrote The New York Times. The newspaper argued that as NSG member, India would oppose Pakistan’s entry and “that could give Pakistan, which at one time provided nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran, new incentives to misbehave”.

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,” the NYT added.

A key US Senator, Ed Markey, warned that enabling India to join the NSG would cause a “never-ending” nuclear race in South Asia.

The Obama administration, however, ignored such pleas and in another statement this week, it reiterated its call to NSG members to support India.

“The United States calls on NSG participating governments to support India’s application when it comes up at the NSG plenary, which I think is next week,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told a news briefing in Washington.

Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter to the NSG members, saying they should “agree not to block consensus on Indian admission”.

India, though not a member, enjoys the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules for its atomic cooperation deal with the US.

Mark Hibbs, a senior associate in Washington’s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear policy programme, urged the NSG not to accept India as a member right away.

“The NSG should not say yes next week,” he wrote in The Diplomat news magazine.

“It should tell India that there are good reasons to include it, but also that the group needs to complete an internal fact-finding and consensus-forming process in part to prepare the NSG for the consequences of possible Indian membership.”

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2016

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Comments (22) Closed



Ranjan Jun 20, 2016 08:10am

Why Pakistan and India wants membership to NSG? India is committed to non-proliferation and so is not going to supply Nukes to any new country... the existing Nuke+ do not need... Whereas Pakistan is concerned, it has already supplied to Iran and N Korea and may also supply subsequently...

So, no need to consider any of the applications...

Desi Dimag Jun 20, 2016 08:32am

All the best to India and Pakistan both.

Mohan Jun 20, 2016 08:51am

I see where it is going.. india will be admitted into NSG and but won't oppose Pakistan membership into the same. However I doubt, other countries will agree on pakistan.. may be USA will back pakistan ..but i doubt about russia and other european countries.

SB Jun 20, 2016 09:09am

I am confident that India will become NSG member with China Support

Get Real Jun 20, 2016 09:15am

Not sure what the competition is about...after all the discussion...they say this not a regualatory body...just a club.

It seems having or not having makes no impact?

Rohit Jun 20, 2016 10:23am

China is wise enough to see where its interest lies,opposing concensus and opening another chapter of relations with India which in any case already enjoys most of benefits of membership or getting some reasonable interests addressed and support concensus being urged by leading world powers like US, Russia, UK, France etc? Only India's entry can pave the path for Pakistan.

Mustafa R. Jun 20, 2016 10:44am

@Mohan;

China supports Pakistan and that would be enough.

Mustafa R. Jun 20, 2016 10:47am

@Desi Dimag;

'All the best to India and Pakistan both.'

That is quite a change of tone, what did the Chinese foreign minister tell Sushma Swaraj, she is so amicable now.

ripan Jun 20, 2016 10:49am

good luck to India and Pakistan. Our life isn't going to change with this development,we should not be bothered

Mustafa R. Jun 20, 2016 10:48am

Moral of the story is when Raheel Sharif talks, the West listens, also thank you All-Weather friend.

SK Jun 20, 2016 11:34am

@Mustafa R. Please read NSG rules. NSG IS not just made up of China.

SK Jun 20, 2016 11:37am

@Mustafa R. Moral of the story is when Raheel Sharif talks, the West listens, also thank you All-Weather friend.

Where is your civilian government. World knows Pakistan is a military state and that is one reason, amongst many, it will have problems in getting into NSG.

Ahmad Jun 20, 2016 11:43am

@Ranjan We have noted your remarks and forward it to NSG group members :)

leela4fun Jun 20, 2016 11:46am

@Mustafa R. I guess Obama was shaking in his boots when Raheel Sharif talked to him!

amir_indian Jun 20, 2016 01:30pm

India is in conversation with all NSG members at different level - PM , President Foreign Minister, Foreign Secretary etc. so at least we are trying - remaining just wait n watch.

sam Jun 20, 2016 01:50pm

@Mustafa R. - There is a word in Dictionary named "Economics". Its would not sound very native to you, but yes for us.

CHOLA Jun 20, 2016 02:18pm

I don't understand Pakistan strategy here, if u want to join NSG first sign NPT and join then block India forever without China's support otherwise do your diplomacy talk and gain your support from 48 countries.. Why dont you do that.It's not fair riding on India's back to join without any effort. You think US convince all 47 countries except china coz US magic won't help with Russia, Australia, etc. it's us to convince them by our diplomacy talk and sure we will join NSG by end of this month.

M. Asghar Jun 20, 2016 02:31pm

Nuclear Pakistan's full membership of NSG along with Nuclear India is the basic need for calm and peace in South Asia, when USA are trying for their narrow interests to go against this basic tenet just to gain leverage against China. Asia must not allow this to happen.

Sri1 Jun 20, 2016 03:59pm

@Mustafa R. "Moral of the story is when Raheel Sharif talks, the West listens" Yes, of course, my friend. Be happy.

Sri1 Jun 20, 2016 04:00pm

@sam " There is a word in Dictionary named "Economics"" Maybe had it been part of Pakistan-studies, Mustafa may have heard of it.

Satyameva Jayate Jun 20, 2016 05:51pm

@Mustafa R. - China can stop Indian from joining NSG. But China cannot make Pakistan Join NSG. NSG works by consensus: One country can stop. But ALL countries must agree to allow.

Siddharth Mishra Jun 20, 2016 08:15pm

It's not easy to get NSG membership. Though security is one of the criterias. Others are separation of civilian and military nuclear reactors and opening up all the reactors to strict and regular IAEA inspections. India has been following these criterias since 2008 when it had signed 123 Agreement with the US. Will Pakistan separate ita civilian and military nuclear reactors and allow stringent and regular inspections by IAEA?