Britain reiterates support for India's bid to join NSG even as China remains opposed: A look at where P5 countries stand

Apart from the support of countries like the United States, Russia and France, India also has "unconditional support" by Britain for its membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The UK reiterated its support saying India has done enough to merit an entry into the elite group, according to a report in The Times of India.

After a meeting between the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a diplomatic source was quoted as saying in the report, "India has the right credentials for NSG membership and we believe it should be a member. Only the Chinese can explain what objections they have to India's membership."

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Britain's prime minister Theresa May. Reuters

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Britain's prime minister Theresa May. Reuters

India has been seeking entry into the 48-member elite nuclear club, which controls nuclear trade, but China has repeatedly stonewalled its bid. While India has garnered the support of a majority of the group's members, China has stuck to its stand that new members should sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), making India's entry difficult as the group is guided by the consensus principle. India is not a signatory to the NPT.

This is not the first time when the UK has offered support for India's membership bid to the group. In 2013, Britain stepped up its efforts to let India join the global body and pressed its case in a paper prepared ahead of the NSG’s annual meeting that year. It argued that India qualifies because of the size of its civilian atomic industry and its commitment to stopping the spread of military material.

Then in 2016, then British prime minister David Cameron assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi of UK's "firm support" for India's NSG membership bid. A Downing Street spokesperson told PTI that Cameron spoke to Modi and confirmed that the UK would firmly support India's application. "They agreed that in order for the bid to be successful it would be important for India to continue to strengthen its non-proliferation credentials, including by reinforcing the separation between civil and military nuclear activity," the spokesperson added.

Later in November 2016 also, UK backed India's bid for membership to NSG. The India-UK joint statement, during the visit of Britain prime minister Theresa May to New Delhi, said UK "continues to be a strong advocate of early Indian membership of the NSG".

India has been constantly seeking help from other nations to secure its membership. Washington has been offering its support to New Delhi since the very beginning and even agreed to work together towards achieving this goal during the 2+2 dialogue held recently.

US endorses India's membership bid

Since taking office in January this year, the Donald Trump administration has endorsed India's bid for membership to the NSG for the first time in July. A US Department of State official was quoted as saying by The Economic Times that Washington believes India is ready for NSG membership and it is an indication that there is no change in America's policy on the issue under the Trump regime.

India also became the first south Asian country to be added to the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) list after the US issued a federal notification to this effect. Traditionally, the US has placed only those countries in the STA-1 list who are members of the four export control regimes. India is a member of three of the multilateral export control regimes, but hasn't got an NSG membership.

By placing India in the STA-1 list, the United States acknowledged that for all practical purposes India adheres to the export control regimes of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

During the 2+2 dialogue held this year, US reiterated its full support for India's immediate accession to the NSG. Washington has repeatedly said that it will continue to advocate for New Delhi's membership to the elite grouping. Alice Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary of south for South and Central Asia, was quoted as saying by PTI that Washington believes India meets all the qualifications of the NSG.

France joins US in backing India

France has also extended its support to India's membership to the group and promised help to New Delhi in garnering support for its bid. Backing India's case in 2016, France said it will bolster global efforts against nuclear proliferation.

The French foreign ministry in a statement said, "France considers that India’s entry into the four multilateral export control regimes (NSG, MTCR, The Australia Group, The Wassenaar Arrangement) will bolster international efforts for combating proliferation.

"India’s participation in these bodies will help better regulate the export of sensitive goods, whether they are nuclear, chemical, biological, ballistic or conventional materials or technologies."

Later French president Emmanuel Macron vowed to support India on NSG.

India's credentials for NSG membership 'impeccable': Russia

Russia has also supported India's bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group and is even negotiating with China to facilitate the entry, according to reports. Russia deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov has said India and Pakistan’s application for membership of the elite group cannot be compared.

India, he was quoted as saying by Livemint, had an impeccable non-proliferation record while Pakistan could not claim the same qualifications for membership of the club that sets the rules for global nuclear commerce.

Russia is also negotiating with China to further India's case. Mikhail Ulyanov, head of disarmament division in Russia's foreign ministry, told The Economic Times that his government is in constant negotiations with China to enable India to become a member of NSG.

"In 2010 there was high level commitment by Russia to support India’s case in NSG. We remain committed to that. Moscow is talking with interlocutors in Beijing to narrow down their differences with Delhi to ensure entry," he was quoted as saying in the report.

China continues to block India's bid

China has repeatedly expressed its opposition to India's bid primarily on the grounds that New Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Beijing has made it clear that it will continue to block India's bid and it's stand has not changed.

India had argued that countries like Brazil, Argentina and France became members of NSG when they were not signatory to the NPT. Beijing countered India's claim by saying that France was a founding member of the group and therefore, the issue of its acceptance does not arise.

Pakistan has also applied to become a member of the grouping. With regard to India and Pakistan, The Economic Times quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying as saying,"China, along with other countries, has been maintaining that there should be a thorough discussion on whether non-NPT countries can join NSG, and this decision should be made on consensus. This applies to all non-NPT countries, including Pakistan."

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Sep 28, 2018 13:30 PM

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