With China watching, US to bat for India’s NSG membership

NEW DELHI: With India-US defence ties acquiring a new ballast after signing of a crucial defence pact, the US has underlined its strategic resolve to spur India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Club at the earliest.

The inaugural 2+2 dialogue between the defence ministers of India and the US ended in New Delhi on September 6, with a soaring vision of closer strategic and defence partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies.

The highlight of the 2+2 dialogue was the signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), but there were significant outcomes in other areas as well. This included discussions on fast-tracking operationalisation of the landmark India-US nuclear deal and expediting India’s membership of the NSG, the global cartel which controls the flow of nuclear technology and materials.

“In our meeting today, we also agreed to work together to secure India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at the earliest,” said India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at a joint press statement with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and US Defence Secretary James Mattis.

The United States welcomed India’s accession to the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Missile Technology Control Regime and reiterated its full support for India’s immediate accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” said a joint statement.

“Both sides looked forward to full implementation of the civil nuclear energy partnership and collaboration between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Company for the establishment of six nuclear power plants in India,” said the statement.

There is an overwhelming support in the NSG for including India as a member, with China as the only major P5 country ambivalent about New Delhi’s entry into the nuclear club.

China has argued for a criteria-based approach for NSG membership, with a view to getting its all-weather client state inside the NSG tent. This ploy is seen by India as a stalling tactic.