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India’s bid to join NSG hits dead end

Updated June 24, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Nuclear Suppliers Group on Thursday failed to reach consensus on India’s membership application after several members of the international nuclear trade cartel insisted on adhering to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) condition for admission, thus blocking Delhi’s entry for now, a diplomatic source said.

The group decided that it would deal with non-NPT states with an even hand, the source added.

A formal announcement would be made at the conclusion of the NSG’s plenary meeting in Seoul on Friday.

The countries that opposed India’s application included China, Russia, Brazil, Austria, New Zealand, Ireland and Turkey. To India’s shock, some of the countries that had initially pledged support for its candidature did not do so at the meeting.

Read: China snubs India over NSG

Mark Hibbs, a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment, tweeted that about a quarter of the 48 member-NSG raised issues about Indian candidature.

The NSG works through consensus and India would not have been able to make it into the club even if a single country had opposed its application.

The criticism of India was not only that it had not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but also that it had not fulfilled the commitments it made while getting NSG waiver in 2008. It has neither made progress towards CTBT nor has separated its civilian and military nuclear reactors.

India is said to be runnng the largest unsafeguarded nuclear programme with a fissile production capacity 7.7 times greater than that of Pakistan.

China was the main challenger of the Indian bid, which was being backed by a number of Western countries. Beijing was opposed to giving exception to New Delhi and had been demanding deliberations on the accession of non-NPT countries.

Indian hopes about ending Chinese opposition had revolved around a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. But the interaction did not achieve that and President Xi, even before meeting Mr Modi, told his Pakistani counterpart Mamnoon Hussain that his government would persist with criteria-based approach for the NSG membership.

India, according to a foreign diplomatic source, was not on the agenda of the plenary meeting, but Japan called for consideration of its application.

Pakistan’s case was, meanwhile, not taken up by the group on Thursday.

Pakistan had intensified lobbying for its candidature after it formally launched its application last month. A delegation led by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry remained in Seoul during the NSG plenary meeting for continuing that effort.

The source said the Pakistani delegation met representatives from 25 countries on the sidelines of the session.

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria had earlier said that several NSG members “want detailed discussions within NSG to first agree upon criteria for admission of non-NPT countries to the group with a view to preserving the non-proliferation norms”.

Pakistan, Mr Zakaria said, would continue to highlight its strong credentials and pursue NSG membership based on non-discriminatory and objective criteria.

Examine: India's membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group 'not merited', says NYT

He further said that Pakistani and Indian applications cannot be considered in isolation from the goal of maintaining strategic stability in South Asia.

Zahir Kazmi, an official of the Strategic Plans Division, had a day earlier at a lecture at the Centre for International Stra­tegic Studies (CISS) said Pakistan expected NSG to fairly and simultaneously consider its application along with that of India.

Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s former envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, had at a roundtable at Strategic Vision Institute said Pakistan was opposed to “exclusive membership” for India and supported evolution of criteria that can be applied across the board.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2016