New Delhi: Days before India was snubbed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group or NSG, which refused in entry last month, Germany, which supported the application, tried to give India an alternative route into the 48-country bloc that controls sensitive nuclear technology.
- India refused entry to nuclear trading group NSG last month
- India must sign NPT (non proliferation treaty) first, said China
- Not ok, says India. Germany suggested another non-proliferation pact
China used what India has described as a "procedural hurdle" to keep India out, stating that the NSG cannot admit a country that has not signed the main global arms control pact or the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
That was in Seoul. 10 days before that, on June 9, as the NSG held a key session in Vienna, Germany wrote to Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, suggesting that India should sign and ratify the CTBT - the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty - which commits nations against nuclear testing. More than 160 countries have ratified the 1996 CTBT. But since 1996, India is among the countries that have conducted nuclear tests. Eight countries including the US and India have blocked the pact from taking effect.
The letter to Ms Swaraj from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders commends India's voluntary moratorium on nuclear weapons testing and says India's entry into the CTBT would be a "significant step towards the danger emanating from nuclear weapons".
Highly placed sources told NDTV that Ms Swaraj responded to the letter nearly three weeks later, after India was turned away from the NSG, which, however, has suggested the application may be reviewed again later this year.
In her reply, Ms Swaraj reiterated that India's stand on the CTBT and said Delhi continues to be committed to a "global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament".
China was the ringleader of a group of countries that included Switzerland who fought the push by the United States to bring India into the NSG. The United States, which has a nuclear cooperation deal with Delhi, says India must be recognised as a nuclear power that plays by the rules and is not a proliferator.
India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington.
Germany has not opposed India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers group, and in fact is believed to have lobbied with Switzerland to drop its opposition as well.
Ms Swaraj told parliament this week India continue to "engage with China" with the aim of winning Beijing's support and that India remains firm on not signing the NPT. The letters from Germany and the Netherlands indicate, however, that India will be pressured to enter other non-proliferation regimes if it wants to collect support for its application to the elite NSG.