Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal
New Delhi’s continuous lobbying for the Nuclear Supplier Group membership manifests its craze for entry into the cartel. Its decision to approach Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) again during the forthcoming meeting of the Groups officials in Vienna, Austria demonstrates Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resolve to secure the membership of the supplier club. Though, India’s application will not receive confirmatory response from a few members of the Group, yet it leaves the impression that New Delhi is determined for the full membership of NSG. Moreover, it will provide New Delhi an opportunity to review and assess its situation and options in the cartel.
India and Pakistan had formally applied for the membership in May 2016. Both states realize that inclusion in the Group not only enhance their prestige or status in the global politics but also legitimize their import and export of nuclear material for peaceful application. Nevertheless, the 48 members of NSG failed to reach a consensus in cartel’s plenary meeting in Seoul on June 23-24, 2016. The members were ended up in balancing between the political necessities and norms based equitable non-discriminatory criteria. Though, they attempted to resolve this balancing puzzle, yet failed to create a consensus. Both the Great Powers’ politics and mantra in support of the principal of universality or criteria-based approach resulted in a status quo during the June 2016 NSG plenary meeting. Since then, however, New Delhi has robustly been lobbying with the intense support of Washington and its like-minded countries to get a ‘special treatment’ by the NSG members. Simultaneously, Islamabad is also lobbying for the NSG membership.
Paradoxically speaking, keeping India and Pakistan out of the Group due to twentieth century (Cold War) constituted nuclear nonproliferation regime criteria could undermine the NSG’s objectives.Equally, the change in the membership of NSG would affect the credibility of the Group. Therefore, the current members of the NSG are obliged to chalk out an intelligent cum judicious strategy to entertain the applications of both India and Pakistan.
The senior officials from the NSG countries will be meeting on November 11-12, 2016 in Vienna. In this meeting the Consultative Group (CG) of the NSG will present its report on India and Pakistan application status and the response of the members of the cartel. Notably, the CG meets at least twice a year and is tasked to hold consultations on issues associated with the Guidelines on nuclear supply and its technical annexes. Therefore, the members of the cartel would take seriously the report of the CG on the status of India and Pakistan applications for the NSG membership.
The role of NSG Troika is significant in the smooth function of the cartel. The current NSG Chair, together with the previous and the future Chair, form the NSG Troika. Currently, the members of Troika are Mr Young-wan SONG (Current Chair of the NSG: Republic of Korea), Mr. Rafael Mariano Grossi (Previous Chair of the NSG: Argentina) representative of Switzerland, the future Chair of the NSG. Among the troika members Mr. Grossi is candidly supporting India’s bid for NSG. He is aspiring for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General’s post. The Agency history reveals that without the support of United States securing the IAEA Director General’s is impossible. Therefore, Mr. Grossi is indirectly pleasing the United States by lobbying for India in the NSG.
Since June 2016 NSG plenary meeting the officials of India had approachedtheir Chinese counterpart twice for softening/revising the China’s principle stance on the NSG membership aspirants criteria. Nevertheless, Beijing maintains its two-step approach, i.e. draft “non-discriminatory” criteria for non-NPT signatories and then take up specific applications. Importantly, today, India is encounter tough resistance in getting the membership of the NSG.The trends reveal that India would not be able to alter the positions of the Austria, China and Ireland. India abstained from the United Nations First Committee Resolution (L.41) to express its displeasure on the opposition of Austria and Ireland. The Resolution was sponsored by Austria and Ireland. It aims to draft a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons. In a tit for tat reaction both Austria and Ireland voted against the Indian proposal for a convention “to ban the use of nuclear weapons and then their possession.” Conversely, the Indians succeeded in softening the stance of Brazil and New Zealand on the membership subject. Brazilian President Michel Temer gave impression that he understands India’s positionand New Zeland’S Prime Minister John Key promised to his Indian counterpart contribute to “constructively” contribute in the process.
The preceding discussion underscores that despite New Delhi’s hectic lobbying and engagement three countries, i.e. China, Austria and Ireland will continue to insist on chalking out general criteria for non-NPT entrants in the forthcoming meeting of cartel officials.Hence, during November 11-12, 2016 meeting India would not secure the consensual support for its bid for the membership of the Nuclear Supplier Group.
— The writer is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.