The contemporary debate: Could India be a member of NSG?

By Aqib Shoukat Paracha

Yes, it was India to convince the Global community that nuclear technology just can’t have peaceful uses. Henceforth, the concerned states joined heads to bar prospective future possibilities of agitated nuclear transfers. That’s all, the tale of 1974. Based on self-styled norms, on September 6, 2008 the exclusive Nuclear Club agreed to bypass the founding NSG guidelines and decided to issue a clean waiver to India for Civil Nuclear trade. Since then, India is trying to have a ceremonial sitting in NSG. After India’s formal application of May 12th to the participating governments of NSG, a debate heightened among participating governments’ relevant to the criteria for non- NPT states to be indulged into this elite group.  From May 12th onwards India claims itself as most insightful state for non Proliferation norms, masking aside its 1974 case.

India and Pakistan being non NPT states primarily not scores for NSG membership, but burgeoning India-United States relations has too much extent blemished the spirit of NSG. India’s unwarranted desire for this group and its possible implications for Non Proliferation regime is matter of concern for non proliferation activist’s states. In recent months, India tried hard enough to bulldoze NSG participating states to her posture, but the severity of India’s nuclear ambitions disheartens the non proliferation activists’ states. In his recent article Daryl G. Kimball who is the Executive Director at Arms Control Association has masterfully analyzed the flat substructure framed to accredit India for NSG membership. This substructure was designed by Ambassador Rafael Mariano Grossi, the former chair of Nuclear Suppliers Group.

This Pro- Indian content has once again brought up the discourse focusing on Indian efforts of undermining Non Proliferation regime. Theoretically, if India is inducted into the Nuclear Cartel, in addition to the collapse of Non Proliferation Regime it will leave serious setbacks for forums relating to arms control. Adequately these forums have worked for non proliferation norms, but all in one inducting any state, a non signatory of NPT will hamper the progress made in decades. Specifically in case of India’s inclusion into NSG, the legitimacy of this cartel will come to question. Because the pre requisite criterion for NSG obligates every participating state not to be in nuclear trade relation with any non NPT state. Considering 2008 India’s exemption of NSG and India’s so called diplomatic massive movement for NSG, the one who suffer will be the cause for strengthening non proliferation regime. It will also birth a speculation about partisan applicability of NSG pre requisites.

Being a party among NSG states requires assurance that the imported nuclear related material will not further proliferate nuclear weapons. Interestingly, in South Asia India precedents the arms race, that erode strategic stability paradox. South Asian region is in consideration of dominant states for their strategic objectives of future, that’s why any single NSG assurance will consequently left a rough tough strategic scenario for players. Also there exists a concern among stake holders that if India is guaranteed the NSG privileges, it can in future initiate serious concerns for future aspirants of NSG, especially for the non NPT states. India’s membership of NSG will likewise leave serious repercussions for Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; it will be a step further toward reestablishment of non proliferation and arms control related treaties and agreements. This will certainly make more vulnerable the globe to weapons that nests upon it.

Prime Minster Modi’s exercise for NSG could have done better subjected to India’s pre assessment of its decade longs stances toward treaties banning Nuclear weapons. Now Modi’s visit has done better on hierarchical level but ceremonial agreement would need mandate from working groups of NSG for whom a convoluted agenda is architected. India still has some nuclear facilities out of IAEA safeguards, Is the community rest assured that India has no plans to divert material from these plants for military use? India’s such arduous engagements complicates strategic environment of South Asia, that therefore compel Islamabad to follow the suite. Islamabad has debated agendas for maintaining a conducive environment among both states, but in pretext of ongoing unfolding, what other reason remains to question Pakistan‘s nuclear program?

Pakistan and India both states have sizeable nuclear programs, added with their antagonistic attitudes toward each other; also ostensibly NSG don’t have criteria for inclusion of non NPT states. If NSG can let in a state whose intentions created the safe club then there remains no reason to let behind the state with prospering safe nuclear program. There exists the bench mark argument whether NSG is ready to include a new criteria base approach or it will go with non NPT (but Okay), non CTBT (but Okay) and Proliferate (but Okay) approach. NSG is on verge of certifying its perception of the wealthy cartel. The case of Pakistan and India for NSG is persuasive but the perception being developed regarding India’s membership criteria raise concerns on major agreed non proliferation commitments. Matter of debate must not be “a wealthy state will left behind”, instead it should be “incorporating the non NPT’s” into the major nuclear club.

Aqib Shoukat Paracha is a Research Affiliate at Strategic Vision Institute in Islamabad, Pakistan

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