WASHINGTON: The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) strengthened global efforts to discourage proliferation by refusing to accept India as a member, said a senior US lawmaker.

But a senior Obama administration official told Washington-based Indian journalists that he was confident India would be a full member of the NSG by the end of the year.

The NSG recently held its annual and plenary sessions in Seoul, South Korea. The key issue before the plenary session was to consider membership applications from India and Pakistan. The meeting concluded on Friday, without admitting either,


Administration official confident that India will join group by December


“By refraining from admitting India, the NSG strengthened both the treaty and the broader global non-proliferation regime,” said Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat.

NSG guidelines insist that only signatories of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) should be admitted to the elite club. Both India and Pakistan have not signed the NPT.

In a statement issued by his office, Senator Markey also noted that the NSG was founded in response to India’s 1974 nuclear test, and it had worked for decades to prevent the sharing of technology that could contribute to the further spread of nuclear weapons.

“If India joined the NSG, it would be the only participating government in the organisation that was not a party to the NPT, weakening the NSG’s commitment to the treaty,” he said.

Last month, at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US-India Relations, Senator Markey had warned that India’s admission into the NSG without signing the NPT would trigger a “never-ending” nuclear race in South Asia.

Criticising the Obama administration for lobbying for India’s membership, he argued that “making these exemptions” for New Delhi would cause Pakistan to further expand its nuclear capacity.

“What you are doing is creating an action-reaction that is leading to a never-ending escalation cycle that ultimately leads to development of nuclear weapons, including battlefield nuclear weapons,” Senator Markey told US Assistant Secretary for South Asia Nisha Biswal, who explained the administration’s policy to the panel.

After NSG’s refusal to admit India, a senior US official told an Indian news agency, PTI, that there was still a “path forward” for India to join the group.

“We are confident that India would be a full member of the (NSG) regime by the end of the year,” he said. “It needs some work (but) we are confident that we have got a path forward by the end of this year.”

The official, however, refused to divulge the proceedings of the Seoul meetings, saying that details of those internal deliberations were confidential.

The US, he said, had “worked closely” with India and other countries on this issue. He noted that “months of discussions” had also preceded India’s admission into the Missile Technology Control Regime early this month.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2016

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