After the plenary session of the Nuclear Suppliers Group got over in June last year, India’s chances to get into the group seems bleak.
The NSG is an association of 48 members, also called the London Club. The purpose of the NSG was to ensure the prevention of nuclear proliferation either through exports or through said guidelines. This association is that very association that was formed in 1974 to counter India’s first nuclear test.
The main obstacle in India’s inclusion in the NSG has been because of China often equating Pakistan with India’s candidature in the NSG. However, unlike India many countries have protested Pakistan’s inclusion in the context of the dreaded AQ Khan’s illicit nuclear proliferation networks.
The stubborn resistance India has faced from China on membership is largely due to India’s resistance in signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
So what exactly is the NPT?
The NPT prevents the unauthorised expansion and exchange of nuclear technology. India has a legitimate reason for not signing the treaty, as it is highly discriminatory whereby it only recognises the five allied powers of the second World War as nuclear powers namely, United States, Russia (then USSR), China, France and the United Kingdom.
In a globalised and security sensitive world, such a grouping is extremely problematic because in the midst of powerful countries who possess nuclear power, every country should be allowed to enhance their nuclear capabilities, of course in a responsible manner.
India with Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and South Sudan are the other nuclear countries who have not signed the NPT.
However, thanks to frantic lobbying and deep diplomatic channels and with the onus on Washington, India was able to get a nuclear waiver that ended years of nuclear discrimination. The civil nuclear deal allowed India to trade in nuclear technology and materials with the US, Russia, France, Canada and Sri Lanka without becoming a full fledged NSG member albeit certain caveats and riders.
So the question arises, if India is right for not signing the NPT. Considering that India is peace loving and a responsible super power India shouldn’t sign the NPT in its present discriminatory format. With two extremely hostile and nuclear neighbours in China and Pakistan, India cannot compromise on its security.
Joining the NSG does have its own advantages, for example India can have greater access to nuclear technology and trade with the bloc frequently. Therefore, New Delhi must restore diplomatic overtures to enter the club. India can often cite the example of its nuclear doctrine of ‘no first use but second strike policy’ or elaborate on the entry of France who without signing the NPT and without being a Non-Zangger member is a NSG member.
Therefore it is imperative that New Delhi deliberates more aggressively with countries via diplomacy rather than being subdued by discriminatory and lopsided protocols.