With the approaching of the twenty-eighth Plenary Meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an elite nuclear cartel to control nuclear commerce, the fingers are crossed once again with regards to the non-NPT state’s membership issue. With this in the contemporary international security environment, the NSG membership debate has emerged as an urgent issue for the states in Asia, explicitly.
It is known to all that the US is lobbying and pressurizing the rest of the states in order to accommodate India into the NSG club, and this all began post Indo-US nuclear deal. For this purpose the international community is continually portraying India’s nuclear track record as an A grade. This could be to achieve their (big powers) self-centered goals. After the US, many other countries have followed suit by engaging India into similar kind of Uranium deals (Indo-US Nuclear Deal) for a dual purpose. Undoubtedly, India is one of the worst proliferators; it once had scornful disdain for non-proliferation regimes, which has now been conveniently forgotten by the world. Consequently, it has negative implications for the South Asian nuclear region.
Previously, several countries, apart from China, were defying the US pressure and insisting on a two-step approach for admission of non-NPT states into the NSG and for the need to develop an objective and equitable criteria, which would be applicable to all the applicants in future. On the other hand, India has ruled out the possibility of joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state. Amandeep Singh Gill, permanent representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament, told the UN General Assembly recently that the question of India joining 6th NPT as NNWS (non-nuclear weapon states) can not arise in the near future.
In the backdrop of China's continued efforts to block India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Indian official said that it has taken up with Beijing all the concerning issues during the recent Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Dialogue between the two sides. The Indian delegation at the talks was led by Pankaj Sharma, Joint Secretary (Disarmament and International Security Affairs) in the MEA, while the Chinese side was led by Wang Qun, Director General of Department of Arms Control at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China. This is a step that India considers as much needed one, especially after its entry into three of the four multilateral export control regimes over the last two years.
If India wants recognition as a nuclear weapons state, it should be required to meet the nuclear group’s standards, including opening negotiations with Pakistan and China on curbing nuclear weapons and halting the production of nuclear fuel for bombs. In this regard, President SVI Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said that India’s alone entry into NSG would put back Pakistani efforts for developing its infrastructure and industry by decades. Therefore, such an eventuality would have serious consequences for national security, economic and industrial development of Pakistan.
Nevertheless, the outcome of this forthcoming plenary meeting on the enlargement of cartel’s memberships would not come as a surprise because no major breakthrough for non-NPT states accession to NSG is expected for foreseeable future, viewing no change in China’s position for accepting new or non-NPT countries into its fold.
However, it is yet to be seen what consensus participating Governments will reach on the admission of new states into its folds. However Pakistan feels encouraged by the increasing number of states supporting neutral formula and realizing Pakistan’s concerns about preferential treatment extended to India. It is hoped that NSG members would adopt an impartial criteria for all non-NPT countries in the forthcoming plenary meeting. Otherwise another exemption for India would accelerate arms race in South Asian region by infuriating Pakistan to expand its nuclear capabilities and will also question international efforts to curb proliferation. To sum-up, criteria-based NSG membership is a mutually beneficial proposition because it will benefit the strategic restraint, the stability in South Asia, the Non-proliferation regime, NPT and NSG.