NEW DELHI,SUHASINI HAIDAR:With hours to go for a special session of the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in Vienna on June 9-10, to discuss India’s application for membership, India scored another vote of support from Mexico.
“As a country we are going to be positively and constructively supporting India’s (membership at the NSG) in recognition of the commitment by PM Modi to the International agenda of disarmament and non proliferation of nuclear weapons.” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr. Modi was in Mexico on the last leg of his 5-nation tour, and his visits to both Mexico and Switzerland, which also announced its support, were aimed at garnering their backing for the NSG, especially given that both countries have held strong positions on no-proliferation in the past.
The China concern
India’s biggest concern from the 48-nation group comes from China, that argues that NSG members must be signatories to the Non-proliferation treaty (NPT). India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel and South Sudan are amongst the countries that aren’t signatories to the NPT, which India believes is discriminatory.
Given China’s public opposition, India has been working on whittling down other countries in the NSG in a bid to isolate China. In particular, Pakistan’s application for membership, which will also be taken up at the extraordinary 2-day session in Vienna starting Thursday, is expected to queer the pitch slightly.
A report by a prominent news agency on Thursday also indicated that a few other countries remain skeptical of India’s membership chances during the session that leads up to a plenary in Seoul on June 24, 25.
Quoting “three diplomats” aware of proceedings, the Bloomberg news service reports said that some NSG countries still want “tighter monitoring by international nuclear inspectors as well as iron-clad assurances that Indian activities in its civilian nuclear program won’t be used for military purposes.”
The report also quoted a letter U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sent out to NSG members appealing for support to India, “India has shown strong support for the objectives of the NSG and the global nuclear nonproliferation regime and is a ‘like-minded’ state deserving of NSG admission,” Kerry wrote, as a part of the U.S.’s commitment from the 2008 civilian nuclear deal to help India win access to international nuclear regimes. Mr. Kerry is on his way back from meetings in Beijing, although it was unclear if he had raised the NSG issue with the Chinese leadership.
Significantly Mr. Kerry’s letter indicated that India would not oppose Pakistan’s membership on the basis of its “regional” issues, but would take a merit-based approach to all other applications to the NSG.
India decided in 2012 to pursue full membership to the NSG, which gave it an exceptional “country-specific” waiver in 2008.
Over the past few years, the government has stepped up its campaign for the membership and hosted current NSG chair Rafael Grossi in Delhi last year. “This [membership of NSG] has been an objective that we have pursued for many years now. We believe we made a lot of progress and that has led us to formally apply to NSG some days ago. We are engaging all NSG members regarding this issue,” S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary, told the media at the MEA in Delhi last week before the PM left for his tour.
Mr. Modi arrivied in Mexico city from Washington for a visit that lasted a few hours, before he returns to New Delhi on Friday morning.