Top Indian diplomat makes unannounced visit to China to lobby support for NSG membership
New Delhi—Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj while addressing a press conference on Sunday said India will not protest Pakistan’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
“We are not opposed to any country’s entrance into NSG based on merit, including Pakistan,” Swaraj said, according to Indian media.
Swaraj also clarified that China is not opposed to India’s membership of the NSG, amid reports of Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar’s ‘unannounced’ visit to China last week to woo Beijing’s support for entry to the NSG.
According to The Hindustan Times, Swaraj said China is only discussing the criteria procedure.
“I am hopeful we will be able to convince China as well [over India’s NSG membership bid], I am in contact with 23 nations; one or two raised concern but I think there is consensus,” Swaraj said. “We are trying to ensure that India becomes a member of NSG by the end of this year.”
The Indian foreign minister said Pakistan’s attitude after the Pathankot air base attack in India has been different as compared to previous instances. “Nawaz Sharif himself offered to help with the Pathankot probe,” she said. “We have difficult issues to resolve with Pakistan. There is ease and warmth in the relations between the two countries at present.”
Foreign secretary-level talks between Pakistan and India have not been cancelled, Swaraj said, but India is awaiting completion of the Pathankot probe by Pakistan. “The National Investigation Agency has not been denied permission to go to Pakistan and investigate [the Pathankot attack]. Pakistan has only asked for time to conduct the probe at their end,” she said.
The Indian foreign minister also said India had decided, with the help of state governments and cabinet ministers, to reach out to almost all countries in the world by the end of 2016.
“Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) does not come sitting at home,” Swaraj said, adding that there has been a $55 billion influx of FDI over the past two years.
“We envisaged growth in FDI and Skill India programmes through various foreign visits, and have moved ahead with various nations in nuclear agreements,” Swaraj said.
Meanwhile, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Beijing last week to discuss Chinese support for entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Indian diplomatic sources confirmed on Sunday, according to a report in Indian media.
Indian Foreign Office Spokesman Vikas Swarup said Jaishankar had discussed “all major issues, including India’s membership to the NSG during his visit to Beijing” on his visit to Beijing from June 16-17.
A meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping may also be on the cards at an upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan this week.
The NSG is a 48-nation club dedicated to curbing nuclear arms proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that could foster nuclear weapons development.
The group’s membership has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty but India has refused to do so.
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, even though India has developed atomic weapons and never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.
Opponents argue that granting it membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation.
China has led the opposition to a push by the United States (US) and other major powers for India to join the main club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology,
Last week, Indian media quoted a state-run Chinese daily as saying a US-backed move to make India a member of the NSG will be good neither for Pakistan nor for China, and would set off nuclear instability in South Asia.
The paper’s op-ed commentary, titled “India mustn’t let nuclear ambitions blind itself”, feared that New Delhi’s NSG membership would set off a nuclear confrontation in the region. Earlier this month, a New York Times (NYT) editorial said India’s membership of NSG is “not merited until the country meets the group’s standards”.
If India is successful in gaining entry to the group, it could keep Pakistan from gaining membership because group decisions are made through consensus. “That could give Pakistan, which at one time provided nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran, new incentives to misbehave,” the NYT editorial said.
However, the NYT said, China’s opposition to India could doom the India’s bid for membership “for now”. The editorial goes on to say that India should be required to meet the NSG’s standards, “including opening negotiations with Pakistan and China on curbing nuclear weapons and halting the production of nuclear fuel for bombs”.