ISLAMABAD: A fresh push led by the US for India’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is expected by October this year, according to a diplomatic source.

The NSG’s consultative group is tentatively scheduled to meet in October and a special session of the 48-member nuclear trade cartel is likely to be convened around the same time for considering Indian candidature.

The United States, which is the principal backer of the Indian bid, had vowed to get it admitted before the end of the year after the stalemate on India’s entry into the NSG at the group’s plenary meeting in Seoul in June.

With US presidential elections scheduled for November, it is believed, the Obama administration will make an attempt to fulfil the outgoing president’s promise with India before the transition process sets in.

Zahir Kazmi, a Pakistani official who was speaking at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) seminar on ‘Indo-US Nuclear Deal: Politics of NSG and its Implications for Pakistan’, however, believes that the deadlock in the NSG on India’s membership will not be resolved anytime soon.

Government urged to continue diplomatic engagement with NSG members over the issue of admission of non-NPT states

“There is a stalemate, which is unlikely to be overcome in the next six months to a year at least,” he said, adding that Pakistan remained hopeful of simultaneous entry into the NSG along with India because of support within the NSG for criteria-based approach.

“Only uniform criteria-based approach will break the impasse,” the official added.

Besides China, which is the main supporter of adherence to NPT criterion for entry into the NSG, a number of other countries in the NSG, which are often referred to as the non-proliferation purists and have been calling for uniform admission criteria, are opposed to exceptionalism for India.

US support for India flows from Indo-US strategic partnership, which first led to the nuclear deal and then NSG waiver (for India) was managed giving it the status of a de-facto member of the group. The US is now going all out to get India the status of a full member of the NSG, which would put India firmly in the nuclear mainstream.

Pakistani officials contend that the Indo-US strategic partnership and the nuclear deal destabilised the region and exacerbated Pakistan’s security dilemma.

Mr Kazmi called on the NSG to revoke the exemption granted to India and adopt uniform criteria for new admissions. He also cautioned the US against pushing for India’s exclusive entry into the NSG.

“If the US continually pushes for India’s exclusive entry into the NSG, bilateral relations with Pakistan would not be ‘business as usual’. The people of Pakistan will not accept such discrimination,” he said.

Pakistan’s former permanent representative at UN in Geneva, Zamir Akram, said the debate at the NSG was moving towards new membership criteria because India being a non-NPT state did not fulfil the NPT consideration.

“The debate (on expansion of NSG) is moving towards what is going to be the criteria that can be accepted by consensus at the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” he said.

SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said that India’s entry alone into the NSG would put back Pakistani efforts for developing its infrastructure and industry by decades, besides having serious consequences for national security and economic and industrial development.

He observed that the world in its obsession for India should not forget that India was one of the worst proliferators.

He called on the government to pro-actively continue diplomatic engagement with NSG members over the issue of admission of non-NPT states.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2016


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