NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a direct appeal to his Irish counterpart to support India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) — a reflection of Ireland’s continuing attachment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which had made it a reluctant supporter of the India-US nuclear deal and caused strain in diplomatic relations.
Modi reached Dublin on Wednesday on the first such visit by an Indian PM to Ireland in 59 years. During and after talks with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Modi raised the delicate matter of NSG membership.
Aware of Irish sensitivities, Modi said at his joint press appearance with his host, “We respect Ireland’s strong and principled position on this issue (non-proliferation).”
Peddling India’s record on this front he said, “India has also been a leading voice on universal nuclear disarmament since Independence. We remain strongly committed to that goal. Our credentials and record on non-proliferation are second to none.” Modi then sought to flatter the Irish PM by noting that Ireland’s plan had been key for the implementation of the India-US nuclear deal. “Ireland’s support was crucial for India-specific exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008. With rapid growth in India’s enormous energy demand, it has opened a big option to pursue a sustainable development path,” he said.
“I sought Ireland’s support for the reforms of the UN Security Council within a fixed time frame — in particular, for successful conclusion of inter-governmental negotiations in the 70th year of the United Nations. I also sought its support for India’s permanent membership of the reformed Security Council,” added Modi.
Modi’s decision to transit through Ireland, instead of Germany, while going to New York for the annual UN General Assembly session, makes sense as India has been actively lobbying for NSG membership for over two years. However, the process has been stalled due to continuing opposition from a group of countries, including Ireland, who feel that only signatories of the Non Proliferation Treaty should be a member of the NSG.
Ireland was among the last trio of countries — along with Austria and New Zealand — who had held out from giving approval for waiver from the NSG to join the international N-trade.
However, Dublin’s subsequent approval was only grudging as it noted that no member states planned to transfer enrichment and reprocessing technology to India. New Delhi felt Ireland only joined the consensus in the NSG as it was isolated. Subsequently, India had limited high-level interaction with Ireland “to display our displeasure”.