India's Hope For Nuke Club Entry Alive, NSG To Meet Again This Year: Sources

Highlights

  • NSG to consider process to include non NPT states as members: Sources
  • US to push for India's membership by the end of this year, say sources
  • China remains a major hurdle to India's bid to join elite nuke club
New Delhi: India may have lost out to becoming a member of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group during its plenary in Seoul this week, but its hopes of joining the group this year are still alive.

NDTV has learnt that despite China's strong opposition to India, the NSG has decided to meet again later this year to discuss the process for allowing non NPT signatories like India, into the group. Sources say the suggestion for another meeting came from Mexico and was opposed by China. But those objections were set aside.

Diplomats familiar with the developments say no date has been decided yet, but it's likely to take place towards the end of the year. The NSG has set up a panel for informal consultations on India's membership. This panel will be headed by Argentine Ambassador Rafael Grossi.

A senior US official had told PTI on Friday that there is "a path forward" for India to become full member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group by the end of the year, saying, "We are confident that we have got a path forward by the end of this year".

"It needs some work. But we are confident that India would be a full member of the (NSG) regime by the end of the year," the official told PTI on condition of anonymity.

India's attempts to become a member during the NSG's Seoul plenary failed this week as China effectively scuttled the bid, refusing to even discuss India's case specifically. Other countries like Switzerland and Brazil also raised issues regarding setting a common criteria for non-NPT states, along with discussing India's bid. While countries like Ireland and New Zealand wanted the criteria to be spelt out first.

The NSG's special meeting later this year gives India another window but China remains a challenge.

Beijing snubbed Prime Minister Modi's outreach and scuttled India's bid in Seoul. The Prime Minister had met China's President Xi Jinping in Tashkent earlier in the week, to push for India's case, but to no avail. A disappointed India attacked China in its official statement, saying "one country" had raised procedural hurdles repeatedly. India has a tough diplomatic task ahead with China to try and bring them on board.