India and nuclear powers have come a long way from the establishment of Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. From no access to basic technologies, to USA promising key drill technologies and supporting India’s NSG and MTCR membership, the changing global view of perceiving India as a nuclear power has been brought forward.
Barring China, the 48-member NSG countries including those who resisted earlier, have supported India’s NSG entry. (USA, Mexico, Switzerland, Australia). Since 2008, India has been pushing forward to become an NSG member, where decisions are consensus based and not based on majority votes. (Even if one member says no, the membership status is denied)
Why India should get membership?
India has established itself by tradition and nature as a peaceful and non-proliferation nation.
It has separated its civil and nuclear programmes and put the civilian part under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
When NSG was created, it was India-centric. But, from then till now, the world has changed; people who created it have changed and their outlook has changed. Hence, now there is a need to initiate change to identify and acknowledge global space to rising powers
What are the stumbling blocks?
China has surfaced procedural problems for India’s admission to NSG as it is non-signatory to NPT and CTBT, which India will never be, at least in recent future. India needs testing of thermonuclear and other kinds of weapons designed. Thus, physical validation is required.
China is being cautious about India’s entry into NSG due to
India given exception in 2008 due to Indo-US nuclear treaty
Politically, India and US are coming closer and ganging up against it in Asia.
Hyphenating Pakistan’s entry with India into NSG is a secondary reason to stop NSG entry. (If India gets it, Pakistan should also).
How important is it for India to be part of NSG?
Practically, not much!
India does not have any advanced nuclear technology to export.
India has access to technology, fuel, reactors through the bilateral trades. (One-time waiver by NSG in 2008)
So on face-value, there isn’t much loss in being a non-NSG member.
However, NSG membership is politically and symbolically important to be a part of global governance.
India-China and MTCR
India became 35th Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) member whereas China is trying unsuccessfully for last one decade.
China is considered to be a rogue missile proliferator in past by supplying technologies to North Korea, Iran and Pakistan. This has seriously thwarted China’s chances.
With MTCR also being a consensus based group, India is in position to determine China’s inclusion.
Thus, now there exists a scope of trade-off between India and China for their respective aspirations to join elite global powerful bodies, and it is necessary for both nations to achieve a mid-way for mutual benefits.
The most crucial advantage of MTCR membership is that India can transfer technology and missiles to non-MTCR members. India has developed prominence in missile technology, especially with AGNI-V touted as most advanced missile technology at long range. This has resulted in missile export trade between India and Vietnam (BrahMos).
Why is US anxious to get India into NSG?
Distinct warming of relationship between USA and India over past decade
Limiting China’s growing influence
However, one possible fall-out can be— increasing pressure on India to sign NPT.
Will India get membership this year?
It is highly unlikely with China revealing the non-inclusion of agenda to discuss membership of non-NPT members at the NSG plenary session at Seoul in June 2016.
India is at a stage where it can conduct its policy at multiple levels
Disagreement with China over nuclear or missile regime need not have humongous impact on bilateral trade.
Not much has been anticipated by US about future course of action after NSG membership
As one of the world’s fastest growing economy with indigenous space and missile technologies, India is at a significant position to become a part of global bodies that set rules. Thus, it is a matter of pride and justified demand by India to be part of rule-making bodies like UNSC, NSG, MTCR and more.
NSG= 48-nation group that frames and implements agreed rules for exporting nuclear equipment, with a view to controlling the spread of nuclear weapons.
Non-Proliferation Treaty= 1968 treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament. It identifies “nuclear weapons states” as those that tested devices before January 1, 1967, which means India could never be one and thus it refused to sign it.
MTCR= Voluntary association of 35 countries to slow the spread of missiles and other unmanned delivery technology that could be used for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.