External Affairs

India Wants NSG to Follow ‘Merit-Based’ Approach to Membership, Not ‘Criteria’

The UN offices in Vienna, home to the International Atomic Energy Agency. India's refusal to accept full-scope IAEA safeguards means the Nuclear Suppliers Group must agree to relax its membership rules in order to admit India. Credit: Bernhard Benke/Flickr CC 2.0

The UN offices in Vienna, home to the International Atomic Energy Agency. India’s refusal to accept full-scope IAEA safeguards means the Nuclear Suppliers Group must agree to relax its membership rules in order to admit India. Credit: Bernhard Benke/Flickr CC 2.0

New Delhi: As the clock ticks towards the plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in Seoul, India remains opposed to any “criteria-based” approach for new entrants, concerned that this is a delaying tactic by China.

With discussions going on in various capitals, New Delhi is still worried about Beijing’s position being the only roadblock, though there are three other countries which have concerns about Indian membership of the nuclear exporters club.

Writing about the June 9 NSG meeting in Vienna and the reservations of some countries to India’s application to become a ‘participating government’, Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies has argued that with China adamant,  the “only way for India to be admitted to the NSG is for members to agree on a criteria-based process that would preserve Pakistan’s prospects for future admission.

However, official sources here made it clear that India continues to be strongly opposed to the idea of ‘criteria-based’ membership which Beijing has been advocating by calling for the same treatment of all non-NPT countries.

In his June 3 letter to NSG participating governments, US secretary of state John Kerry wrote, “With respect to other possible new members of the NSG, Indian officials have stated that India would take a merit-based approach to such applications and would not be influenced by extraneous regional issues”.

Sources made it clear that a “merit-based” approach was not the same as drawing up “criteria” for membership. If the NSG went the ‘criteria’ way, then it would mean that India would have to wait for two-three years as the 48 member countries of the group reach consensus on what those terms should be. Naturally, India will not be inside the room when the NSG draws up its criteria, which would again allow China to bat for Pakistan and delay New Delhi’s entry, officials asserted.

“Merit”, on the other hand, would entail looking at the past record of a country applying and considering the “big picture” of their role in nuclear trade and non-proliferation, the sources said.

Indian officials have repeatedly pointed out that New Delhi has already brought its export controls in line with NSG guidelines. India has also completed the separation of  its civil and military nuclear program, and signed an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency – steps no other non-NPT member has even begun to take.

Pakistan will not be meet these standards soon, and therefore, the timeline for its eventual membership of the NSG would be different, Indian officials say.

This is, obviously, not an outcome that Pakistan – and China – would want from the Seoul meeting. In a statement issued by the Pakistan foreign ministry on Wednesday, Sartaj Aziz, the foreign policy adviser to the Pakistani prime minister,  thanked Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu “for [the] principled position adopted by Turkey at the Vienna meeting that the membership applications of both India and Pakistan be considered together”.

In its campaign for NSG membership, India has deliberately tried to keep away from the rhetoric of subcontinental rivalry. Kerry’s phrase that Indian officials will “not be influenced by extraneous regional issues” is part of that positioning exercise. The Indian argument is that NSG membership is required to ensure an environment of “predictability”, which will help to meet targets of expanding nuclear power production and ultimately, make the Paris climate change pact a reality. If India does become a member, Kerry’s letter suggests New Delhi will not be an obstacle to consideration of Pakistan’s membership application. “The question is whether an assurance that India would refrain from blocking Pakistan’s subsequent bid will work,” Rakesh Sood, a former adviser to the Indian prime minister on nuclear affairs, asked in an op-ed article in The Hindu on Tuesday.

Currently, China along with Turkey, Austria, South Africa and New Zealand are the only major hold-outs, after Mexico and Switzerland indicated their support for India earlier this month.

On Sunday, Beijing reiterated its view that accession by “non-NPT countries” should be done through “full discussions before forging consensus and making decisions based on agreement”. “The NPT provides a political and legal foundation for the international non-proliferation regime as a whole. China’s position applies to all non-NPT countries and targets no one in particular,” said the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei, who added that the group “remains divided”.

  • http://csak1948.blogspot.com Chandra Shekhar A.K.

    India is paying for Nehru’s simplistic understanding of China during the heyday of the Indo-Chini Bhai-Bhai phase. When the Big Powers offered UNSC membership to India after the latter’s independence, Nehru foolishly declined it in favour of China, a well-kept secret of the Nehru-Gandhi family. When Indira Gandhi with her nuclear aspirations refused to sign the NTBT, China went ahead and signed the treaty. While both went on to become nuclear powers, India’s consistency and China’s duplicity have since been proved. China’s current role as a spoil-sport in India’s attempts to get UNSC and NSG membership is consistent with its duplicity, while India’s current friendship moves towards China are inconsistent with its own self-interest as well as China’s perfidy, showing that since Nehru’s days India has not learnt its diplomatic lessons. No foreign policy towards China that does not recognise China’s duplicity and perfidy will therefore be in India’s interests. India should learn from Britain their policy of keeping talks on with China while keeping its powder dry. Unfortunately, both Nehru and Modi have been misled by doctrinaire advisors who are blind to ground realities.

    • Velamur Anand

      This story about “big powers” offering UNSC permanent seat (UNSCPM) , is, perhaps a myth floated by the anti-freedom struggle lobby in the saffron camp. In any case, if UNSCPM is in the pocket of some “powers” to “give”, it is not worth having. This kind of worship on our part of what we perceive as power is precisely our undoing in issues like NSG. The true story of UNSCPM for India goes back to the very foundation of the UN in 1945:
      (a) UN was President Roosevelt’s idea and China was a victorious ally in WW2, and there was never any question about their UNSCPM,. US was strongly in favour of China and also in favour of a national govt. in India to replace British colonialism. Japanese troops surrendered to China in some centres like Hanoi.So, the Chinese role under Chiang Kai Sheik was was beyond any doubt.
      (b) In March 1945, Roosevelt sent an American military plane to Calcutta and asked Indian National Congress to send a representative to Washington DC. INC sent Vijayalaxmi Pandit who had already in 1942, met American representatives and Madame Chiang kai Sheik, China’s First lady, (a close friend and a pro-India influence on Eleanor Roosevalt) . Ms Pandit met President Roosevelt and other degnitaries. She was In Washington at the time of launch of UN. Roosevelt expected that India would be represented by INC and Ms Pandit .Unfortunately, Roosevelt died before the UN launch. The Brits objected to Ms Pandit representing India and insisted on a Member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council representing India. Soviets supported Ms Pandit’s participation. That package included UNSCPM for India (represented by a national movement ) right from the start. Truman, who succeeded Roosevelt , ultimately tilted in favour of the British demand . Brits still wanted UNSCPM for “Viceroy’s Rep” ! Of course, that was shot down since the King in England and his cousin in India could not both have UNSCPM.
      (c) Denial of UNSCPM to India is one more crime of Perfidious Albion, and an outcome of the untimely death of Roosevelt.

  • NCWA

    China already paid all its cards in NSG Elite meeting to block India’s membership bid. In other words We Indian should be thankful to Chinese who gave us this awesome opportunity and experience of eye opening session or else we can say back stabbing session of Political Diplomacy of the World. Now we Indian’s know what worst can happen in Political Diplomacy.
    It’s time for top Indian Diplomacy not sentiments…..!!
    Actually Chinese very well knows India is a strong contender, sooner or later India will get its NSG Membership. In other words it was Chinese Diplomacy to buy time for Pakistan to clean up its act and come up clean for their membership bid.
    India couldn’t get its membership on crucial time but however 2008 exemption is more than enough for Indo-US civil nuke reactors deal. Only loss India face will be deal from Namibia.
    People blame China but biggest setback was Switzerland. Diplomatically call it a U Turn or back stabbing. China always had a clear stand that it will not let Non NPT Country to join in Elite NSG. But million Dollar question was Why Brazil, Austria, Ireland, and New Zealand confronted India membership bid? Why did they take China stand?
    Lately Chinese spokesman stated it was US who made NPT compulsory but didn’t explain Why US had to made NPT compulsory….I suppose deep in their mind they already knew the answer….It’s all because of Chinese themselves…..and its regular violation of NPT.
    Question is why these India opposing Countries did not come to consensus and confront China who struck deal with Pakistan who didn’t even have exemption from NSG or neither made any attempts in that regard.
    Coming to case of NPT, Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 48-nation body that regulates the export of civilian nuclear technology, prohibit the export of such technology to unstable states, greatest live example: Pakistan and North Korea.
    Pakistan has not adopted full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Yet over the last decade, China has accelerated nuclear commerce with Pakistan while contending that its actions are in compliance with NSG guidelines, So Why these countries did not raise questions to China in regards to NPT…??
    Why these Opposing member countries are not questioning on sale of restricted Nuclear Material Monel and Inconel which was transferred by CAEA (China Atomic Energy Authority) to PAEC (Pakistan Energy Commission) and later sold to North Korea which also violates UN Sanctions.
    Why these Opposing Countries not questioning The Beijing Suntech Technology Company Limited which manufactures Vacuum Induction Melting (VIM) furnaces which find application in refining hard metals such as uranium and plutonium, which are used in making nuclear warhead cores. Pakistan is known to have procured these items from China and has passed them along to North Korea in violation of UN Sanctions.
    Why these opposing Countries didn’t confronted China in regards to The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 1718 Committee, which is monitoring the implementation of sanctions against North Korea, sought information from Pakistan in November 2015 regarding the frequent visits of the two North Korean diplomats to Islamabad and Karachi. However as always Pakistan denied it, but when confronted with photographs and other recorded evidence, Pakistan acknowledged that the two North Korean officials under investigation had indeed visited Islamabad and Karachi regarding the sale of restricted Nuclear Materials and equipment’s which were transported from China to Pakistan and were under PAEC (Pakistan Energy Commission) which is part of Pakistan Military Establishment.
    Its High time that countries opposing India needs to “look at themselves in the mirror “ and ask “how can they run with the hare and hunt with the foxes”…!!!,
    Diplomatically speaking ”tit for tat”….India should play the same game against China in its MTCR membership for which China applied way back. And likewise NPT India should ask China to sign HCOC (Hague Code of Conduct) and C&D (Conduct and discipline) in UN against Philippines, Vietnam and other countries in South Asian Sea.

  • Dinesh Kumar Reddy Gade

    India should sign the Non-Proliferation treaty and abide by all the rules of NSG to gets it’s admission and stop blaming China.