No decision on India's NSG membership

27 June 2016

India says it remains confident of a positive outcome concerning its application for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) after the group did not decide on the matter at its latest plenary. 

A public statement issued by the NSG at the conclusion of its 26th plenary meeting, held in Seoul, Korea, on 23 and 24 June, said it had decided to continue discussions on the technical, legal and political aspects of the participation of non-NPT (nuclear non-proliferation treaty) states.

The NSG seeks to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that could potentially be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. All its members are signatories of the NPT. A non-signatory of the NPT, India was for many years therefore effectively isolated from international nuclear trade. However, the approval of an India-specific safeguards agreement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an exception under NSG rules and a round of bilateral nuclear cooperation deals, led by the 2008 US-India nuclear cooperation agreement, have enabled India to play an increasing part in the international nuclear marketplace.

India formally applied to become a member of the NSG in May and the group said its relationship with the country had been a topic of discussion at the meeting.

India's Ministry of External Affairs said its application had "acquired an immediacy" in the light of the country's commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement of the 21st conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. India's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), setting out its post-2020 climate actions, envisages 40% non-fossil power generation capacity by 2030. "An early positive decision by the NSG would have allowed us to move forward on the Paris Agreement," the ministry said.

"We understand that despite procedural hurdles persistently raised by one country, a three-hour-long discussion took place [at the plenary] on the issue of future participation in the NSG. An overwhelming number of those who took the floor supported India's membership and appraised India's application positively," the ministry said. "It is also our understanding that most countries want an early decision," it added. As a non-member of the NSG, no Indian representatives were present at the meeting.

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China's foreign ministry, responded to suggestions that China had been the country blocking India's entry into the NSG at a press conference on 24 June. She said the application of non-NPT countries including India had not been an agenda item at the Seoul plenary.

"The NSG is still divided on the entry of non-NPT countries at the moment," she said, adding that China and other countries had "pushed the group to discuss the issue of non-NPT states' entry" to uphold the NPT as the "bedrock" of the international non-proliferation regime. "Regarding India's entry into the NSG, we have said many times that China holds a clear stance on the accession of non-NPT countries including India […] China's position does not target any specific country, but applies to all non-NPT countries," she said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News