India was hopeful of securing its NSG membership, but the recently concluded meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in Vienna has proved inconclusive. The main opposition to India’s NSG membership is coming from China. Although china has not directly opposed India’s membership, it has pointed out that India has not yet signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), due to which, it cannot be granted NSG membership. China also states that NSG should not relax its pre-defined criteria just to accommodate new members. Apart from China, other member countries that have opposed India’s NSG membership include New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria. For NSG membership, it is essential to get the approval of all member countries because NSG works on the basis of unanimity and not majority. So, even a single opposing vote can prevent India from securing an NSG berth.
With India being ranked among the fastest growing economies in the world, it needs vast amounts of energy, which can be secured through nuclear technology. India’s membership to NSG is crucial since NSG controls the access to nuclear fuel and nuclear technology. India’s primary requirement is to gain access to nuclear fuel Uranium. Uranium reserves in India are quite small, which has made the country dependent on imports. India currently has nuclear technology cooperation and nuclear fuel supply agreements with various countries such as United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Russia, Australia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina, and Namibia.
PM Modi has worked extensively to convince many member countries to support India’s inclusion in the group. India has often cited the case of France, wherein NPT was not required to become a member of NSG. Prominent backers of India’s NSG membership include countries like the United States, Japan, Switzerland and Mexico. The United States, in particular, has been working hard to help India secure its NSG membership. The two nations have common interests, so the United States is utilizing its diplomatic channels to gather support for India’s NSG membership. At this point of time, China’s opposition appears to be a personal agenda rather than one based on merit. China’s rising aspirations in South Asia and even the world are quite apparent, so its opposition to India’s NSG membership does not come as a surprise.
The decision regarding India’s NSG membership will now come up for discussion in the next NSG plenary, scheduled to be held on June 24. Hopefully, India will secure its NSG membership and resolve its uranium scarcity problem.