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Forthcoming Nuclear Suppliers Group plenary meeting and India’s status

By Sonia Naz

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is the group of states that prevent the nuclear proliferation by controlling the export materials, technology and equipment that can be used in making of the nuclear weapon. NSG was found in 1974 in response to Indian nuclear tests. India clearly violated the peaceful use of nuclear material with Canadian supplied research spent fuel for making Plutonium. The formation of NSG was the result of Indian violation of peaceful use of nuclear material for military purposes.

India has been granted a special NSG waiver by the US and has been enjoying a special status since 2008, getting preferential treatment for its case and application for the NSG membership due to its strong bond with US. In fact, the US wants strong alliance with India to counter China’s growing influence in the South Asian region. While India gained the full support of Obama administration in 2010, but the recent attitude of NSG member states and changing trends of nonproliferation regimes indicate that it would not be so easy for India to get the membership of NSG. One can recall that the US’ exceptional behavior towards Indian membership was debated extensively in the international media before the 2016 NSG Plenary meeting. The debate highlighted that special treatment given to one state would undermine the credibility of non-proliferation regimes. Ever since India signed a nuclear deal with the US, few congressmen seem concerned due to Indian noncompliance of nuclear related promises. After this deal Pakistan also warned the US that this coalition would intensify the arms race in South Asia.

Despite the western and the Us; support, India‘s proposal for the NSG membership has failed to get a favorable response in the Seoul NSG plenary meeting of 2016. Nonetheless, the Premier Narendera Modi is trying to remove obstacles with the help of the US to get the membership of NSG because it would allow New Delhi to trade in nuclear materials with the rest of the world. India claimed that “Indian participation in the NSG would strengthen the international efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons”. India looks hopeful about its prospects for the membership of NSG after becoming the member of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) on 7 June, 2016. After getting MTCR membership India proclaims to extend support China’s membership into MTCR where it hopes that in return China will support India in its application for the NSG membership.

Pakistan has also been aspiring to get the NSG membership and has sent an application in this regard coupled with the diplomatic efforts to get maximum support from the international community on its case. Pakistan stands for a non-discriminatory stance towards the non-NPT nuclear weapons states for their entry into the NSG. It will enable them to carry out civil nuclear trade. Pakistan on its part welcomed the nuclear security initiative in 2009 by the US President Barak Obama and took several practical steps for making its nuclear weapons more secure. It also ratified the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material amendment in 2016 and has been following the UNSC Resolution 1540.The amendment was about the physical protection of nuclear material during the international transport and storage. Pakistan is making best efforts to ensure its nuclear security by establishing a Centre of Excellence and training and education centers. It is interesting to know that the world community is polarized with regards to the India and Pakistan case for NSG. While the French presidentalong with the UnitedKingdom, Switzerland, and Mexico are supporting India, on the other hand China, New Zealand, South Africa are opposing Indian membership. According to them, NSG 48 members are the signatory of the NPT, whereas India is not a signatory of the NPT. Membership of the NPT is a necessary qualification to gain membership of the NSG. India promised in 2008 that it would take certain measures of nonproliferation in exchange of NSG waiver, but it has not separated its civilian and military reactors and neither has it signed the Nuclear Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Its non-adherent attitude weakened its case for the membership of NSG, resultantly many NSG group members showed reservations over its candidacy for the NSG.

India and Pakistan are capable of producing highly enriched Uranium and Plutonium for civil and military purposes and they can easily assist the developing states in advancing their nuclear infrastructures and technology. Both states are the non-NPT member states which would make it hard for them to get the NSG membership in the upcoming 28thplenary meeting because even in the last plenary meeting the same issue resulted in the stalemate on India and Pakistan’s case. Even though the US always favors India, but this time it appears that the Us support will not be that helpful to get the NSG membership because ultimately it all boils down to the credibility of the NSG which should not be compromised.

Sonia Naz is a Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute in Islamabad, Pakistan

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