nuclear reactor india
nuclear reactor indiaWikimedia commons

India's entry into the nuclear supplier group (NSG) is being discussed among its member nations, China stated on Tuesday, a day after it said that India's application to the elite club, which controls the trade in nuclear technology, was not on the agenda of the bloc's plenary in Seoul.

Citing the U.S.'s strong pushes for India's inclusion in the NSG, the Mint quoted the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson as saying to PTI on Tuesday: "We did not target any country — India or Pakistan. We only care about the non-proliferation treaty."

China has insisted that any new membership to the NSG be tied to signing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), a crucial global pact to control proliferation of weapons. The U.S. that helped India in 2008 to trade in nuclear commerce without being an NPT signatory is now pushing for its membership into the NSG and also other groups.

The Economic Times reported that with 29 out of 48 members supporting India's membership bid, Argentina, the group's current chair, is considering an informal alternate plan to address both India's and China's concerns. It proposes to set up a time-bound working group to establish rules to allow non-NPT members into the NSG, like China has recently proposed. For India, setting up of such a group will importantly allow its case to come up in Seoul as a first step and then consequently help set a definite time frame.

India is also keen that it joins the club before President Obama's term ends. The White House and the U.S. state department too have separately called on the NSG members to support India's application that comes up before the plenary in Seoul on June 23-24, as reported by the Mint.

The ET called India's diplomacy to get things around the NSG as "peeling the onion" strategy. The country has sought to approach the opposition camp by its key backers, like the U.S. for Mexico, Germany for Switzerland and Australia for New Zealand's support. With naysayers falling in numbers, China will remain the last bastion and its explanation to oppose India's aspiration will be crucial, said the report.

So far China has stuck to its NPT argument and supported the opposition camp in full measure. India is trying to address its neighbour's concerns politically as well. Its foreign minister and the foreign secretary have met Chinese officials. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to have bilateral talks with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Tashkent on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit on June 23 — a day earlier to final meet of NSG in Seoul. The NSG works on consensus and single hold out can spoil the party for India, noted reports.

Meanwhile, Press Trust of India, citing an article in the Global Times, the Chinese state-run newspaper, said for the first time China has made a case for Pakistan's entry into the NSG. Allaying fears of Pakistan's leaky nuclear past, the Global Times said it was "actually, the proliferation carried out by Pakistan was done by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's chief nuclear scientist, and was not an official policy of the Pakistani government." 

However, the Chinese daily in an op ed noted that despite a non-member of the NSG, India has followed the group's guidelines and implemented many export control policies that prevent nuclear proliferation. Soon after India's acceptance to another group (Missile Technology Control Regime) earlier this month, the daily added that India also "meets the last requirement" for such a membership.

India's advocacy and commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and no first use of nuclear weapon policy have been similar to China's stance, noted the daily. However, it sought for identifying measures to boost trust with Pakistan as it was Asia's other nuclear weapon state.

India not signing the NPT so far or seeking waiver on it is also based on the fact that Pakistan too, with a leaky nuclear record, must not be allowed to adopt the same mechanism, it highlighted.