Beijing: Notwithstanding a US push for India’s NSG membership, China on Sunday said members of the elite club “remain divided” on the issue of non-NPT countries joining it and insisted that there “was no deliberation” on the bid by India and other nations at the Vienna meeting.
“There was no deliberation on any items related to the accession to the NSG by India or any other countries that are not signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said in a statement while referring to the Vienna meeting that took place last week.
He said the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Chair Argentine Ambassador Rafael Mariano Grossi convened an unofficial meeting of the 48-member group on 9 June.
“The Chair said that this meeting has no agenda and is only convened to heed opinions from all parties on the outreach of the NSG and prepare for a report to be submitted at the NSG Plenary Meeting in Seoul later this month (24 June),” he said.
However, diplomatic sources in Vienna had said earlier that India’s membership was discussed at the meeting and talks had remained inconclusive.
China has maintained that non-NPT signatories should not be admitted into NSG on the grounds that it would undermine efforts to prevent proliferation.
Calling for “full discussions” within the NSG to reach an agreement on India’s admission, Hong said China would take part in the deliberations in a “constructive manner.”
“China has noted that some non-NPT countries aspire to join the NSG but when it comes to the accession by non-NPT countries, China maintains that the group should have full discussions before forging consensus and making decisions based on agreement,” he said.
“The NPT provides a political and legal foundation for the international non-proliferation regime as a whole. China’s position applies to all non-NPT countries and targets no one in particular,” Hong said, without directly mentioning India’s application to join the Vienna-based group.
China has been reportedly backing Pakistan’s bid to join the nuclear trading club.
“The fact is that many countries within the group also share China’s stance,” Hong said in response to a question about China, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria objecting to India’s accession to the NSG at its meeting in Vienna.
“There has been some discussion within the group on the NSG membership of non-NPT countries, but NSG members remain divided on this issue,” Hong said.
A US-led push for India to join a club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology made some headway on Thursday as several opponents appeared more willing to work towards a compromise, but China remained defiant.The 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by restricting the sale of items that can be used to make those arms. It was set up in response to India’s first nuclear test in 1974.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>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.
ALSO READ NSG membership: China continues to oppose India’s bid as 48-nation club meet in ViennaBut China on Thursday maintained its position that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is central to the NSG, diplomats said.The handful of other nations resisting India’s admission to the group, including South Africa, New Zealand and Turkey, softened their stance somewhat, opening the door to a process under which non-NPT states such as India might join, diplomats said.
ALSO READ India secures another country’s backing in its bid to become member of NSG: Mexico!”There’s movement, including towards a process, but we’d have to see what that process would look like,” one diplomat said after the closed-door talks on Thursday aimed at preparing for an annual NSG plenary meeting in Seoul later this month.Opponents argue that granting India membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation. It would also infuriate India’s rival Pakistan, an ally of China’s, which has responded to India’s membership bid with one of its own.
ALSO READ India plans expanded missile export drive, with China on its mindPakistan joining would be unacceptable to many, given its track record. The father of its nuclear weapons programme ran an illicit network for years that sold nuclear secrets to countries including North Korea and Iran.”By bringing India on board, it’s a slap in the face of the entire non-proliferation regime,” a diplomatic source from a country resisting India’s bid said on condition of anonymity.Washington has been pressuring hold-outs, and Thursday’s meeting was a chance to see how strong opposition is.US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote to members asking them “not to block consensus on Indian admission to the NSG” in a letter seen by Reuters and dated Friday.Most of the hold-outs argue that if India is to be admitted, it should be under criteria that apply equally to all states rather than under a “tailor-made” solution for a U.S. ally.Mexico’s president said on Wednesday his country now backs India’s membership bid. One Vienna-based diplomat said it had softened its stance but still opposed the idea of India joining under conditions that did not apply equally to all.