China not to budge on India's NSG bid

Fri 10 Jun 2016, 12:42:07

A US-led push for India to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) made some headway on Thursday as several opponents appeared more willing to work towards a compromise, but China remained defiant.

The 48-nation NSG aims to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons by restricting the sale of items that can be used to make weapons. The NSG was set up in response to India’s first nuclear test in 1974.

India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, though India has developed atomic weapons and never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.

But China on Thursday maintained its position that the NPT is central to the NSG, diplomats said. A handful of other nations resisting India’s admission to the group, including South Africa, New Zealand and Turkey, softened their stance somewhat, opening the door to a process under which non-NPT states such as India might join, diplomats said.

style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: justify;">“There’s movement, including towards a process, but we’d have to see what that process would look like,” one diplomat said after talks on Thursday aimed at preparing for an annual NSG plenary meeting in Seoul later this month.

Opponents argue that granting India membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation. It would also infuriate India’s rival Pakistan, an ally of China, which has responded to India’s membership bid with one of its own.

Pakistan joining would be unacceptable to many, given its track record. The father of its nuclear programme ran an illicit network for years that sold secrets to North Korea and Iran.

New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria also oppose bid China not to back down till Pak made member.  Decision not expected before June 20 NSG plenary in Seoul.

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