China on Tuesday made it clear that it would oppose India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), unless the cartel opened its door to Pakistan too. A meeting between senior diplomats of India and China in New Delhi on Tuesday failed to make any breakthrough on the contentious issue, which emerged as the new irritant in the bilateral relations over the past few months.
The Chinese diplomats conveyed to their Indian counterparts that Beijing would remain firm on its stand that the NSG should adopt a “two-step approach" to address the issue of admitting new members. They pointed out that China would like the NSG to first “explore" — through “an open and transparent" process — and reach an agreement on a “non-discriminatory formula" to deal with the issue of granting membership to the countries which had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Once the formula is adopted by the NSG, the cartel should move to the second stage to take up the “country-specific membership issues", according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese government on Tuesday. The Ministry of External Affairs of India in New Delhi stated that the discussions between the senior diplomats had been “candid, pragmatic and substantive" and the two sides had agreed to meet for the next round on a mutually convenient date in Beijing.
Sources in New Delhi, however, told Media that China's position clearly meant that it would not allow India to enter the NSG unless it could ensure that the cartel would also admit Pakistan. The NSG controls global nuclear commerce. The guidelines of the 48-nation organisation prohibit its members from entering into nuclear ties with the countries that have not signed the NPT. Neither India, nor Pakistan has signed the NPT.
The NSG, however, granted a waiver to India in 2008. The waiver paved the way for India entering into a civil nuclear deal with the United States. India subsequently struck similar agreements with other countries, including France, Australia and Canada. India submitted its application for membership of the NSG on May 12. Pakistan did the same on May 19.
China, however, stonewalled the US-led move to admit India into the NSG when the cartel had its annual plenary in Seoul in June. China argued that if the “NPT signatory" criterion was diluted to admit India into the NSG, it should also open up the door for other non-NPT countries, including Pakistan.
China on Tuesday also conveyed to India that the issue of the non-NPT states' participation in the NSG raised “new questions for the group under the new circumstances". It said the crux of the question was “how to address the gap between the existing policies and practices of the non-NPT states and the existing international non-proliferation rules and norms based on the NPT as the cornerstone".