India today said it was engaging with China to iron out differences after Beijing created “procedural hurdles” for its entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) but made it clear that government would never ink Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Responding to supplementaries during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said China had raised questions over how a non-NPT could become a member of the NSG.
“But we are engaging with it. We have not stopped efforts. If someone says ‘No’ for once, it does not mean he won’t agree at all…like GST…Congress friends are not allowing the GST to be passed. Four sessions have passed, all parties have agreed to it, it is being held up due to them (Congress).
“That does not mean it will never agree (to the GST bill). It is possible that the bill is passed in this session,” she said.
Asserting that India has a “clear cut” policy on NPT, she said government will “never sign NPT” but will continue to fulfil its commitments made when it got the waiver in 2008.
Her reply was made amid protests by the Opposition over attacks against Dalits in Gujarat, including sloganeering from the Well.
The minister rejected suggestions that India had created a lot of “hype” ahead of the NSG meet in Seoul. “We have been taught to make serious efforts to achieve things…no hype was created when we submitted our application for the membership of NSG on May 12. We did it with low fanfare,” she said.
Swaraj also scoffed at suggestions by Supriya Sule (NCP) that the denial of NSG membership to India was a ‘huge diplomatic snub’ as it came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Mexico and Switzerland.
The Minister said Mexico supported India’s bid and when the decision did not go in New Delhi’s favour, Mexico demanded an extraordinary meeting to make the plenary decide again on the issue.
Asserting that Indian diplomacy has made its mark, she said earlier people used to ask whether India can make it to the NSG. “Now when India will become a member is the question being asked,” she said in the presence of the Prime Minister.
On the benefits of getting NSG membership, Swaraj said India will then become part of rule making. “We are rule takers not rule makers,” she said recalling a 2011 decision of NSG not to transfer sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technology to non-NPT states.
“The decision was against us. Had we been inside (member), we would not have let this happen,” she said.
She said waiver is like being allowed in the verandah. “Membership is like being in the room…being part of rule making,” Swaraj said.
She also credited the previous UPA government for getting the waiver and said while the UPA government made the commitments, the present government is following the same since it came to power in 2014.
She said membership of the NSG would enable India to have enhanced and uninterrupted access to nuclear technology, fuel and material required for expanding its civil nuclear programme.
In a clear setback to its efforts to join the 48-nation grouping, the NSG plenary held in South Korea last month decided against accepting India’s membership application after China and some other countries opposed entry of a non-NPT signatory into NSG.