CHINA maintains its opposition to India joining a group of nations seeking to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by controlling access to sensitive technology, said the head of the arms control department in China’s Foreign Ministry.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) met last week in Seoul, but China said it would not bend the rules and allow India membership as it had not signed the nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.
“Applicant countries must be signatories of the Treaty on the NonProliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT),” Wang Qun, the head of arms control department in China’s Foreign Ministry, was quoted as saying in Seoul last Thursday (23) night.
“This is a pillar, not something that China set. It is universally recognised by the international community.”
China is leading opposition to a push by the US to bring India into the NSG which aims to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation by stopping the sale of items that can be used to make nuclear arms.
The issue of India’s membership was not formally discussed at the NSG meeting last week, Wang added.
The US, which has a nuclear cooperation deal with India, considers it a nuclear power that plays by the rules and is not a proliferator, and wants to bring Asia’s third largest economy into the 48-member group.
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.
Last Friday (24), on the sidelines of the plenary meeting of the NSG,
Wang stressed China considered it important to handle new memberships under a consensus and that there was no move yet to allow a non-NPT state to join.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi raised the issue last Thursday at a meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping at a regional summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but there was no breakthrough.
“The NSG plenary in Seoul earlier in the day decided against granting India membership of the grouping immediately,” Vikas Swarup said.
A three-hour discussion on India’s membership saw “procedural hurdles persistently raised by one country,” he said. “India believes that an early decision on its application remains in larger global interest,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Opponents argue that granting India membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation. It would also infuriate Pakistan, an ally of China’s, which has responded to India’s membership bid with one of its own.