VIENNA: India appeared closer Thursday to achieving its U.S-backed efforts for membership in a group of nations controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology after some previously skeptical countries softened their resistance, diplomats said. But rival China remained opposed.
Countries grouped in the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group are focused on restricting nuclear proliferation by strictly controlling access to which country can gain access to technology used in making atomic weapons.
Only countries that have ratified the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty are normally eligible for membership.India hasn't. But it has committed to some controls of its nuclear program and under a nuclear cooperation pact with the United States has gained substantial exemptions to NSG regulations, even while remaining outside of the club.
Two diplomats at an NSG meeting said it ended Thursday with several countries that were previously opposed to India's membership softening their resistance. They demanded anonymity in exchange for speaking to The Associated Press because they were not authorized to talk about the substance of the closed session.
One of them said that one scenario discussed was additional commitments by India meant to move it closer to nonproliferation commitments that countries party to the Nonproliferation Treaty must adhere to.
China remained opposed, he said. But resistance had softened from some within a group that includes New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria.
One key problem posed by Indian membership would be what to do with applications from rival Pakistan and Israel, which also are not party to the Nonproliferation Treaty.
U.S. President Barack Obama first expressed support for Indian membership in the NSG in 2010. Since then, his administration has been lobbying opponents to change their minds.
The NSG was formed in 1975 in response to and a year after India's nuclear weapon test, in a program clandestinely developed from peaceful technology.