Vienna: With India continuing to win support for its membership bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), even nations that had been so far opposing the South Asian country’s entry into the elite nuclear club are reported to have softened their stand.
The development comes amid efforts by India and the United States to push for the former’s entry into the nuclear club that controls access to sensitive nuclear technology.
Reuters reported that some of the countries which had been opposing India’s NSG membership have softened their stand and are willing to work towards a compromise.
However, the biggest hurdle in India’s NSG entry – China – continues to remain defiant.
China has been stressing that if NSG decides to induct India, it should also give same treatment to Pakistan, which is its close ally.
“China, if anything, is hardening (its position),” Reuters quoted an unnamed diplomat as saying.
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.
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.
But China on Thursday reiterated its position that the NPT is central to the NSG, diplomats said.
Six nations – China, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria – had been opposing India’s NSG membership. Of these, South Africa, New Zealand and Turkey are reported to have softened their stand on India’s admission to the group.
The change in position of these countries opens the door to a process under which non-NPT states such as India might join NSG.
“There’s movement, including towards a process, but we’d have to see what that process would look like,” a diplomat said after the closed-door talks on Thursday ahead of an annual NSG plenary meeting in Seoul later this month.
On Wednesday, India received Mexico’s support for its NSG membership bid.
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