China has made it clear that it will continue to block India’s attempt to join the elite Nuclear Supplier Group, claiming that New Delhi’s bid has become “more complicated ” under “new circumstances” without elaborating.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group or NSG has 48 member countries who control trade in sophisticated civil nuclear technology. Through last year, China was among the countries that objected to India’s admission to the bloc, ratcheting up tension between the two countries.
The group goes by consensus approach on the admission of new members.
“About the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), it is a new issue under the new circumstances and it is more complicated than the previously imagined,” China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Huilai said to reporters today.
Pakistan has also applied for entry to the NSG. China has not openly backed Islamabad but has said that the rules require members of the NSG to be signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the main global arms control pact. Countries like the US have pointed out that India’s record of nuclear non-proliferation is in sharp contrast to Pakistan’s. But China has ruled out bending the rules for India.
India was granted an NSG waiver in 2008 that allows it to engage in nuclear commerce, but deprives it of a vote in the organisation’s decision making.
The NSG aims to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation by stopping the sale of items that can be used to make nuclear arms. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognises the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – as nuclear weapons powers but not others.
This month, member countries of the NSG will meet in Switzerland.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week at a summit in Kazakhstan.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit will deliberate upon admitting India and Pakistan as members of the group, which currently teams six countries including Russia, China and Kazakhstan.
India and Pakistan have so far served as observers.
China and India exchange fierce recriminations in April over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. Beijing claims the border state as “South Tibet” and considers the 81-year-old a “dangerous separatist”. India said that “every inch” of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to it and that the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of millions, was on a religious tour without any political undertones.
The countries have also clashed over Beijing successfully preventing terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar from being blacklisted by the UN, as sought by India, where the terror group has conducted several deadly attacks on military bases in the last year.
China’s move is seen as support to its long-time ally, Pakistan, where Masood Azhar lives and moves about freely.