Most countries appear positive, but China hardens stand on India’s bid for NSG membership

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Diplomatic sources have said that most countries appeared positive towards India’s NSG membership bid but China was proving to be a major stumbling block.

China on Thursday, according to sources, has further toughened its stand towards India stating that It will only favour India’s entry into the NSG if Pakistan too was included.

The 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by restricting the sale of items that can be used to make those arms.

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The NSG had come into being in response to to India’s first nuclear test in 1974.

India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington. This despite India having developed atomic weapons and never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the main global arms control pact.

But China on Thursday maintained its position that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is central to the NSG, diplomats said.

Among the countries that opposed India’s entry included South Africa, New Zealand and Turkey but they are reported to have somewhat softened their stance, opening the door to a process under which non-NPT states such as India might join, diplomats said.

“There’s movement, including towards a process, but we’d have to see what that process would look like,” one diplomat said after the closed-door talks on Thursday aimed at preparing for an annual NSG plenary meeting in Seoul later this month.

Reuters further reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry had written to the existing members, asking them “not to block consensus on Indian admission to the NSG” in a letter seen by the news agency and dated Friday.

Most of the hold-outs argue that if India is to be admitted, it should be under criteria that apply equally to all states rather than under a “tailor-made” solution for a US ally.

Mexico’s president said on Wednesday his country now backs India’s membership bid. One Vienna-based diplomat said it had softened its stance but still opposed the idea of India joining under conditions that did not apply equally to all.

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