With the United States pushing its case, India’s bid for membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group has received positive indications from most of the member countries but China was still playing the spoiler by persisting with its opposition.
The 48-member NSG, which controls access to sensitive nuclear technology, began a two-day meeting in Vienna to consider India’s application.
“It’s an ongoing process but most countries appear positive,” said diplomatic sources as the meeting got underway.
India’s case is being strongly pushed by the US which has written to the NSG members in this direction.
US Secretary of State John Kerry recently wrote a two-page letter to member countries which are sceptical towards India’s membership of the NSG to ‘agree not to block consensus on Indian admission’ to the group, according to Bloomberg.
‘India has shown strong support for the objectives of the NSG and the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and is a ‘like-minded’ state deserving of NSG admission,’ Kerry wrote.
Among the countries being sceptical to India’s entry were New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria.
Diplomatic sources said some of these countries had softened their stand.
However, China continues to maintain opposition to India’s entry, arguing that it has not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. China wants NSG membership for Pakistan if NSG extends any exemption for India.
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.
Earlier in the day, Mexico expressed its backing to India during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi there. The Mexican support followed that of the US and Switzerland. Japan too has expressed its support.
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.
India has been reaching out to NSG member countries seeking support for its entry. The NSG works under the principle of consensus and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle its bid.
IMAGE: A nuclear power station pictured at night. Photograph: Vincent Kessler/Reuters