'This was undoubtedly a premeditated strategy to thwart India's entry into the NSG.'
'If India hopes to be a major player, it must use its rising clout on the world stage to influence amenable members of the group to alter such discriminatory practices and ensure fair rules of engagement,' says Vivek Gumaste.
Despite diplomatic legalese and sanctimonious overtures to high sounding principles, it was undeniably a rank hatchet job; a Machiavellian conspiracy to the hilt; a scheming gameplan executed to perfection with the evil ingenuity -- one that embodied chicanery, double standards and malicious collusion between India's inimical neighbours.
That in a nutshell sums up the ugly farce that was enacted at the Nuclear Suppliers Group plenary in Seoul by China at the behest of its 'all weather friend' or more appropriately its 'partner in crime,' Pakistan to scuttle India's entry into this elite group.
The NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of regulatory guidelines for nuclear exports and was created in response to India's explosion of a nuclear device in 1974.
Simply speaking, it is a watchdog organisation that aims to prevent the misuse of nuclear technology transferred for peaceful purposes to develop nuclear weapons.
Couching its opposition to India in procedural technicalities and invoking the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chinese chief negotiator Wang Qun, the head of its arms control department in the foreign ministry, claimed: 'Applicant countries must be signatories of the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. This is a pillar, not something that China set. It is universally recognised by the international community. International rules will have to be respected, big or small.' (The Indian Express, June 25).
This Chinese stipulation is neither logically sound nor technically valid. While signing the NPT is one of the criteria for entry, it is not a sine qua non as China makes it out to be. In fact, France's admission into the NSG preceded its endorsement of the NPT.
More importantly, the NSG guidelines, speak of the 'non-proliferation principle.' According to the NSG website: 'The non-proliferation principle seeks to cover the rare but important cases where adherence to the NPT or to a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty may not by itself be a guarantee that a State will consistently share the objectives of the treaty or that it will remain in compliance with its treaty obligations.'
When judged by the 'non-proliferation principle,' India stands out as a star candidate; a model of impeccable behaviour that calls for all round emulation. Its track record is spotless without the faintest taint of questionable nuclear transactions.
India's refusal to sign the NPT is based on principle. On a visit to Japan in 2007, the then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee clarified India's stance in no uncertain terms: 'If India did not sign the NPT, it is not because of its lack of commitment for non-proliferation, but because we consider it a flawed treaty and it did not recognise the need for universal, non-discriminatory verification and treatment.'
Maybe not on paper, but definitely in spirit India is a signatory to the NPT.
However, the same cannot be said of China. If one were to turn the tables and apply the 'non-proliferation principle' to China's nuclear activities, China proves to be a delinquent.
Peruse the following news report to decipher the extent of Chinese malfeasance: 'China and Pakistan reached a formal agreement last month to construct a third nuclear reactor at Chashma that the Obama administration says will violate Beijing's promises under an international anti-nuclear weapons accord. The agreement calls for the State-run China National Nuclear Corp to construct a 1,000-megawatt power plant at Chashma.'
'The CNNC is China's main nuclear weapons producer and has been linked in the past to Pakistan's nuclear arms programme by US intelligence agencies. Additionally, recent US intelligence reports indicate that China, which supplied Pakistan with nuclear weapons, is in the process of modernising Islamabad's nuclear arsenal, which is estimated to contain as many as 110 warheads.'
'Pakistan produced one of the most dangerous cases of nuclear proliferation in the early 2000s when weapons technology was supplied to Libya, Iran and North Korea. The new reactor sale will undermine the Nuclear Suppliers Group. China in 2004 joined the group and agreed not to sell additional reactors to Pakistan beyond the two reactors sold earlier.'
'China is not permitted under NSG guidelines to sell nuclear goods to any country that is not part of the International Atomic Energy Agency.' (China, Pakistan reach secret nuclear reactor deal. Washington Times, March 21, 2013).
It is ironical that a member who actively encourages illegitimate nuclear proliferation should successfully pass judgement on the entry into the NSG of a country with better credentials.
That the Chinese stance was more political than virtuous was evident from the series of India-bashing op-eds which appeared in its official mouthpiece, the Global Times, prior to the summit.
On June 14, in an article 'India mustn't let nuclear ambitions blind itself,' (Global Times, June 14) Wang Wenwen wrote: 'India's application for NSG membership and its potential consequences will inevitably touch a raw nerve in Pakistan, its traditional rival in the region. As Pakistan is not willing to see an enlarging gap in nuclear power with India, a nuclear race is a likely outcome. This will not only paralyse regional security, but also jeopardise China's national interests.'
Another column, 'Beijing could support India's NSG accession path if it plays by rules' (Global Times, June 16) reiterated the same line of thought.
This was undoubtedly a premeditated strategy to thwart India's entry. If India hopes to be a major player, it must use its rising clout on the world stage to influence amenable members of the group to alter such discriminatory practices and ensure fair rules of engagement.
The working structure of the NSG is flawed. The consensus principle can easily be exploited by any one country to advance its own vested interests as this example indicates. Despite more than 30 members of the 48-member group supporting India's candidacy, China was able to have its way. This should be changed.