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NSG and Foreign Policy: Diplomacy works

by Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: Jul 14, 2016, 4:21 am IST

Priti Prakash
Priti Prakash

India exhausted all its diplomatic energies to get into NSG although, the forebodings say sooner or later our democracy and our credentials as a peace loving nation will get us there. India’s membership of the prestigious Nuclear Supply Group did not come through this time again in Seoul, nonetheless the contentions of China blocking India’s membership did not have takers.

Being a part of the NSG will not just position India into the elite club and open the door for a lot of commerce it will  enhance its status in the region along with the say on nuclear business. NSG can be a source of legitimacy for a nuclear-armed state outside of the NPT. Having the right credentials of nonproliferation and no first use policy as opposed to its neighbor Pakistan, that is a world acclaimed rogue state in itself with overt intention and aggressive track record, India has earlier too in 2008 qualified for a membership though temporary. China just made it difficult on the pretext that India is not a part of the NPT signatories.  At the same time China beaten in the MTCR race is bound to see that India having got into it, does not find a place anywhichways in the NSG.

The Seoul plenary which was the latest meet on the NSG issue had countries divided not on the membership issue but on the road to be taken for the induction of India. Ireland, Austria and New Zealand were keen on the procedural part of India’s membership giving it a softer dimension. Switzerland and Mexico too joined the US in supporting India's bid.  A lone China refused to budge playing a spoil sport, as China is always. Interestingly not many know that before the Vienna meet Pakistan had written to 17 countries to oppose India’s membership although India’s Foreign office had made it official that India is ok with Pakistan joining the group.    

Although the earlier stand of China of NPT members solely being members of NSG had a more principled overtone but now the concern is more of opposing India’s membership for the sake of  keeping India out and keeping Pakistan etched with India.  Beijing’s ‘non-NPT’ argument is not so much a matter of principle as it is resistance to India being granted the same privileges as China which is an NPT signatory.

To the grudge of the opponents, the advantages that India derives from NSG membership will leapfrog it into the league of other advanced nations. NSG membership would give India greater access to the international nuclear market that we are devoid of. It will essentially increase India's access to state-of-the-art technology from the other 47 members of the Group, as well. It will also mean that India will have far greater access to uranium than it does currently under its 2008 agreement with the US and African countries. India can begin to commercially produce nuclear power equipment, which it can then even sell to other countries. With access to state-of-the-art nuclear technologies, it can maximize its production benefits. Access to technology and being allowed to produce nuclear equipment will give a boost to the Make in India programme of Modi led government. That will boost economic growth in India, create more jobs and even lead to a whole new IT-industry segment that India can leverage. With India committed to meeting its climate change goals by reducing dependence on fossil fuels, India needs to step up nuclear power production. NSG membership will help India greatly in doing so. Not to forget, if India gets NSG membership, it can prevent Pakistan from getting it, very similar to the manner in which China is blocking India from becoming a member. Added to it are the perks and benefits that China enjoys.    

Other than China, Pakistan opposing, New Zealand softened its stand as it warms up to India for bilateral arrangements insisting more on the procedural part of the inclusion. The other 46 members are certain to resist as Pakistan with its image is seen as proliferator of nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Then America, which is selling us Westinghouse nuclear power plants, is our flag bearer once again. As for why America may be interested in vouching for India is because America eyes access to our huge defense and high-technology market, and seeks to build us up as a responsible counter-weight to China. In the past China has gone ahead with its nuclear cooperation programme with Pakistan, going as far as violating the NSG guidelines.

With the next plenary session in Switzerland in 2017, which has sent mixed signals on India’s candidacy,  when 47 of the NSG members have voted for Indian membership, the remaining ones will likely to toe the line.

Apart from each other’s complimentary interests, membership to NSG is an issue that has overcome polarization. India deserves it well and if China continues to challenge the world as it is, considering the latest South China Sea imbroglio, it will be left isolated and meaningless which it better take care of.  



Priti Prakash
Priti Prakash

Political Commentator, Interviewer, moderator and Foreign Correspondent. With more than 15 years in journalism and experience of both print and electronic medium, she is Editor FacenFacts, news website and Managing Director, Dream Press Consultants Ltd