The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meet in Vienna, which deliberated on India’s application for the membership in elite 48-nation club ended inconclusively. It is now expected to be taken up at its plenary later this month in Seoul. Significantly, India had off-late earned backing of US, Switzerland and Mexico for its bid to enter the NSG club.
While US strongly pushed India’s case, it was China which opposed it on the grounds that India is yet to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
In a boost to India, number of countries, which were initially opposed to India’s bid eased their positions and were ready to work out a compromise. But China stuck to its position. China argued that the NSG should not relax specific criteria for new applicants. The NSG controls access to sensitive nuclear technology.
Besides China, the member countries in the 48-nation group which were opposed to India’s membership were New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria.
On its part, India has asserted that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG as there has been a precedent in this regard, citing the case of France.
The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership of the grouping will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector.
In its backing for India, US Secretary of State John Kerry had ahead of this meet written a letter to the NSG member countries which are not supportive of India’s bid. Kerry said they should “agree not to block consensus on Indian admission”.
In a related development, Pakistan too has launched efforts to secure its NSG bid. It reached out to Mexico and Italy on Friday seeking support for its application.
“Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz spoke over telephone with Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu as part of Pakistan’s continuing diplomatic efforts towards mobilising support for Pakistan’s application for the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),” a Foreign Office statement said.
Significantly, Mexico had expressed its backing to India earlier this week during Prime Minister Modi’s visit there.
Besides Italy and Mexico, as a part of Pakistan’s diplomatic push towards mobilising support for Pakistan’s application, Aziz had earlier this week also spoke over telephone with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
(With inputs from the PTI)