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Sunday, 15 May 2016

US, China spar over India NSG bid

India’s attempt to gain membership to the powerful Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has become the latest battleground in international politics in the past 24 hours between the United States and China, with the US backing India’s candidature and China opposing it, ostensibly to use Pakistan as a shield to curtail Indian influence in the global arena. The NSG is a body of 48 nations “concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials”. Membership of the NSG is expected to
help India “procure more fuel and nuclear components” and make it easier for New Delhi to engage in nuclear commerce for peaceful civilian purposes. India is closely watching the developments which are an ample indication of yet another Sino-Pakistani nexus to thwart India. Experts feel that a jittery China is using Pakistan as a “shield” to block India’s entry into the NSG despite India’s immaculate record in the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation. Beijing’s ploy seems to be to place India and Pakistan in the same basket despite Islamabad’s dubious nuclear proliferation record. The latest face-off began when China indicated on Friday evening that it would block India’s unilateral entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, claiming that “several members of the 48-nation bloc shared its view that signing of the NPT was an important standard for the NSG’s expansion. According to news agency reports from Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that not only China but also a lot of other NSG members are of the view that Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone for safeguarding the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Asked about reports that China is pushing Pakistan’s entry into NSG linking it to India’s admission into the bloc, Lu said the NSG is an important part of NPT, which has been the consensus of the international community for long. “All the multilateral non-proliferation export control regime including the NSG has regarded NPT as an important standard for the expansion of the NSG,” he said. Avoiding any references to Pakistan , Lu said “apart from India, lot of other countries expressed their willingness to join. Then it raised the question to the international community – shall the non-NPT members also become part of the NSG?” he said. “The international community believes that there should be a side discussion in the NSG on this issue and decision should be made in accordance with relevant rules. China’s position is not directed against any specific country but applies to all the non-NPT members,” he said, apparently to avoid making it explicit that Beijing was targeting New Delhi. But the Chinese position was not lost on the world including New Delhi and Washington. Both India and Pakistan have not signed the NPT. With China and Pakistan jointly opposing India’s bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership, the US hit back swiftly the same day, saying India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for entry into the exclusive club. “I’d point you back to what the president said during his visit to India in 2015, where he reaffirmed that the US view was that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby was quoted by news agencies, as saying in Washington on Friday evening. “Deliberations about the prospects of new members joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group are an internal matter among current members,” he said. Just last month, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had reportedly said China has helped Pakistan to stall India’s bid to get NSG membership. According to reports from the United States of an electronic news agency, when India sought an information session with the NSG Participating Governments (PGs) at the recent NSG Consultative Group meeting on April 25 and 26, where it would have made a formal presentation to the NSG Group in support of its membership, Pakistan requested for a similar discussion slot with the NSG PGs. Sources were cited by the news agency as saying that even though Pakistan was fully aware that its request would be rejected, it made its application at the cue of China, in order for Beijing to look even-handed when it sought the rejection of both requests on grounds of parity. In a clear indication on the Sino-Pakistani plan to stall India, sources were also cited as saying that Pakistan is now going to write to all the NSG PGs about its wish to join the group. This is being done in anticipation of an application by India for NSG membership at the forthcoming plenary session of the group in June.

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