China on Friday clarified that India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was not on the agenda of the plenary of the grouping that concluded in Nur-Sultan, formerly known as Astana, in Kazakhstan on Friday.
The Chinese foreign ministry also signalled that an early decision on New Delhi’s entry into the 48-nation club that controls the global follows of nuclear material is unlikely.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said, “As I said, this plenary meeting being held, as we know from the agenda, will discuss the technical, legal and political issues concerning the entry of NPT non-parties and will not be discussing the entry of any specific country.”
India and Pakistan, though nuclear weapon powers, have not signed the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty).
India’s NSG entry has become a point of friction between New Delhi and Beijing, as China, an all-weather ally of Pakistan, is the only major power that is objecting to New Delhi’s membership to the grouping.
Mr. Lu explained that “this plenary session is being held and there will be discussions on the NPT non-parties’ participation and the political and legal issues concerning that”.
“Before reaching a specific plan, the NSG will not discuss on the participation of certain NPT non-party. So there is no discussion on India’s participation,” he observed.
The spokesperson denied that China was blocking India’s entry into the club. Instead, it was only following procedures, which demanded that a decision on new aspirants like India, who were not NPT members, must be based on consensus, he said.
“In the NSG meetings and in the working group meetings, we have said China’s position is not to target any specific country but is based on rules and procedures. Our goal is to uphold non-proliferation and the NPT, which is the cornerstone of the arms control system.”
But Mr. Lu hinted, in response to another query, that an early decision on India’s membership was not on the radar. “As for the plan [to admit new members], you said, we need more consultation and we cannot predict whether it will be one year, two years or any time period, but the decision must be based on consensus.”
The spokesperson acknowledged that India and China were engaged in direct talks on New Delhi’s membership. “I don’t have any specific information but as I know the department chief in charge of this in the foreign ministry has exchanged with his Indian counterpart, [notes related to] disarmament, non-proliferation and security situation and other aspects.”