NEW DELHI: Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s successful visit to the US to gather support for India’s candidature for NSG membership, China on Sunday made it clear that more talks were needed to build a consensus on which countries can join the main group controlling access to the sensitive nuclear technology.
China said the members of the elite group “remain divided” on the issue of non-NPT countries joining it and insisted that there “was no deliberation” on the bid by India and other nations at the Vienna meeting.
“There was no deliberation on any items related to the accession to the NSG by India or any other countries that are not signatories of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said in a statement while referring to the Vienna meeting that took place last week. He said the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Chair Argentine Ambassador Rafael Mariano Grossi convened an unofficial meeting of the 48-member group on June 9.
“The Chair said that this meeting has no agenda and is only convened to heed opinions from all parties on the outreach of the NSG and prepare for a report to be submitted at the NSG Plenary Meeting in Seoul later this month (June 24),” Hong said.
However, diplomatic sources in Vienna had said earlier that India’s membership issue was discussed at the meeting and talks had remained inconclusive.
China has maintained that non-NPT signatories should not be admitted into the NSG on the grounds that it would undermine efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. Calling for “full discussions” within the NSG to reach an agreement on India’s admission, Hong said China would take part in the deliberations in a “constructive manner”.
“China has noted that some non-NPT countries aspire to join the NSG, but when it comes to the accession by non-NPT countries, China maintains that the group should have full discussions before forging consensus and making decisions based on agreement,” he said.
“The NPT provides a political and legal foundation for the international non-proliferation regime as a whole. China’s position applies to all non-NPT countries and targets no one in particular,” Hong said, without directly mentioning India’s application to join the Vienna-based group. China has been reportedly backing Pakistan’s NSG bid.
“The fact is that many countries within the group also share China’s stance,” Hong said in response to a question about China, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria objecting to India’s accession to the NSG. The US has been pushing for India’s membership. The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle its bid.