Chinese Barrier and US Ladder, Can India Join the Nuclear Suppliers Group?

The NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) is an exclusive club of 48 nations that trade in nuclear materials and technology. India is seeking active support from the US for facilitating its admissions to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. One of the biggest hurdles to the Indian entry into the NSG is China, which has been severely opposing India’s bid to gain access to the elite club.

As Indian media reported, the NSG works on the principle of consensus for admitting new members. Unlike other existing NSG members, India has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Delhi has affirmed that it has an excellent non-proliferation record that has permitted India to win a waiver from the grouping to operationalise the India-US nuclear deal and enter nuclear commerce.

A recent decision by the US to put India in the list of nations eligible for Strategic Trade Authorization Tier-I License Exemption, which facilitates the export of high-tech equipment, is seen as another validation of India’s sturdy and reliable export control policies.

“In our meeting, we also agreed to work together to secure India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at the earliest,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said. Excluding the NSG, India is a member of all three export control regimes i.e. Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

“The US welcomed India’s accession to the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Missile Technology Control Regime and reemphasised its full backing for India’s immediate accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” a joint statement issued after the two-plus-two dialogue said.

In August, during his interaction with Russian interlocutors, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale sought Moscow’s help in getting the support of other countries to back India’s entry into the NSG. India had also taken up the matter with China this year.

Experts believe that the improvement in India-China relations could change Beijing’s stance against India’s NSG membership. If China comes on board, New Delhi doesn’t see any other country objecting. “India has impeccable non-proliferation credentials and is a member of the three of the four export control regimes.

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