China on Monday said it would oppose Indiaâ€™s unilateral entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), pending a consensus on the membership of the nuclear weapon states that have not signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).
In response to a question, Chinaâ€™s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, â€œChina’s position on the non-NPT memberâ€™s participation in the NSG has not changed.â€
The 48 nation NSG is expected to hold its plenary next month in Bern, Switzerland, where New Delhiâ€™s entry is expected to be discussed. New Delhi formally applied for NSG membership in May last year, but China has consistently blocked Indiaâ€™s bid, pointing to the need for devolving universally applicable membership criteria for all countries that have not signed the NPT, but had become nuclear weapon states.
Pakistan, Chinaâ€™s close ally, is the other declared nuclear weapon state, which has not signed the NPT.
The NSG controls the global exports of nuclear technology and material to ensure that atomic energy is used only for peaceful purposes.
â€œWe support the NSG following the mandate of the 2016 plenary session and following building consensus as well as the intergovernmental process that is open and transparent to deal with the relevant issues in a two-step approach, â€œ Ms. Hua observed.
In a statement last year after the November 11 meeting of the NSG in Vienna, the Foreign Ministry said that the meeting in the Austrian capital was held to discuss the â€œtechnical, legal and political aspects of non-NPT statesâ€™ participation in the NSG,â€ in accordance with the mandate adopted in June during the groupingâ€™s meeting in Seoul. The meeting was a maiden attempt since the NSGâ€™s inception in 1975 to formally take up non-NPT statesâ€™ participation â€œin an open and transparent manner.â€
However, the statement reiterated Chinaâ€™s insistence on linking NSG membership to the NPT â€” a formulation that rules out Indiaâ€™s membership.
â€œChina maintains that any formula [for membership] worked out should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT states; without prejudice to the core value of the NSG and the effectiveness, authority and integrity of the international non-proliferation regime with the NPT as its cornerstone; and without contradicting the customary international law in the field of non-proliferation.â€
In defining a two-step approach for arriving at a consensus, the Chinese side has said that the first step for membership was defining a â€œformulaâ€ that would be followed by the second step, which would be â€œcountry-specific.â€
India has underscored that NPT membership is not essential for joining the NSG, as was illustrated in the case with France, which became a member of the NSG without signing the NPT.
Highly placed sources said that at the talks with the Chinese, India insisted that the NSG was not a non-proliferation, but an â€œexport control,â€ mechanism. Therefore, Indiaâ€™s NSG bid should be de-linked from the criterion of NPT membership.