Nuclear Supplier Group- Why India is not a member? - Seeker's Thoughts

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Nuclear Supplier Group- Why India is not a member?

What is nuclear suppliers’ group?   

The Nuclear Supplier Group is group of nuclear suppliers that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of two sets of guidelines for nuclear exports and nuclear-related exports. The NSG first met in November 1975 in London, and is thus popularly referred to as the “London Club”

Nations in the NSG

Non-Supplier Group consists of 48 members which include the five nuclear weapon states US, UK, France, China, and Russia. It is not a formal organization, and its guidelines are not binding decisions, including on membership, are made by consensus.

NSG Goals:-
NSG members pursue the aims of the NSG through adherence to NSG guidelines that adopted by consensus, and through an exchange of information, notably on developments of nuclear proliferation concern. The first set of NSG guidelines governs the export of items that are especially designed or prepared for nuclear use. These include:

n  Nuclear material.

n  Nuclear reactors and equipment.

n  Non-nuclear material for reactors.

n  Plant and equipment for the reprocessing, enrichment and conversion of nuclear material and for fuel fabrication and heavy water production.

n  Technology associated with each of the above item.

The second set of NSG guidelines governs the export of nuclear- related dual-use items and technologies (item that have both nuclear and non-nuclear applications), which could make a significant contribution to an unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle of nuclear explosive activity.

Why India is not a member of NSG?

NPT (Non-proliferation treaty) is an international treaty, which came into force in 1970. The main objective was to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.

n  Apart from India, Pakistan and Israel have also not signed NPT.

n  India refused to sign NPT because NPT defines “nuclear weapons states” as those tested devices before 1967, which means India cannot ever be one.

n  No fixed timelines have been mentioned for disarmament.

n  NPT is unfair treaty as nuclear weapons states have no obligation to give them up while non-nuclear states are not allowed to have them.

n  India conducted its first nuclear test-Pokhran -1 (Operation -Smiling Buddha), in 1974.

n  The nuclear powers were convinced that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty alone would not halt the spread of nuclear weapons. Consequently, NSG was formed in 1974.

n  The current guidelines of NSG state that a non-NPT state cannot become a member of NSG which keeps India out of the group.

China’s Opposition

While a majority of the 48- member group backed India’s membership, China along with New Zealand. Ireland, turkey, South Africa and Austria were opposed to India’s admission.
China insisted that India should sign NPT for NSG membership. It wants a non- discriminatory criterion for the admission of countries who have not signed NPT. It is an open secret that China’s resistance is to facilitate the entry of Pakistan a close ally of China.
But Pakistan’s credentials for NSG membership are highly flawed and inadequate. On the other hand, over the years India has shown adherence to IAEA safeguard and has taken voluntary measures to abide by NPT and NSG guidelines while Pakistan has not taken any such initiatives.

India finally managed to have some relief when the US relented and agreed to a civil nuclear deal with India in 2008. This agreement has been done in view of the requirement for the US under section 123 of its Atomic Energy Act 1954, hence also known as 123 Agreement. Under this, India signed a civil- military separation plan and India-IAEA safeguard agreement.

In return, US diplomacy helped us to get NSG waiver. In November 2010, America announced support for India’s participation in the nuclear supplier group, The Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia group and the Missile Technology Control Regime MTCR, “in a phased manner,” and to encourage the evolution of regime participation criteria to that end, “consistent with maintaining the core principles of these regimes.” 
India has taken a formal pledge stating that it would not share sensitive nuclear technology or material with others and would uphold its voluntary moratorium on testing nuclear weapon. This made India eligible to receive advanced nuclear technologies that could be used to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium. Thus, has helped India a lot. 

Therefore, India should take up this opportunity to aggressively pursue the development of nuclear energy while providing the essential emphasis on safety and addressing concerns of the public. It will also pave the way for clean energy initiatives and continued focus to achieve our commitments to reduce the carbon footprint pledge during the climate summit.

Note- India is a member of Wassenaar Arrangement in 2017, and MTCR in 2016. 

References to read about Wassenaar Arrangement and MTCR-