India, as it prepares for what could be described as a photo-finish at the Seoul plenary of the Nuclear Suppliers Group on June 23-24, is hopeful that its diplomatic outreach will be able convince the skeptics like South Africa and Turkey (both NSG members) which for separate reasons are blocking India’s prospective membership.
While South Africa has made India’s non-NPT signatory status as the key reason to oppose India’s bid at the high table, Turkey wants its close partner Pakistan to also enter the grouping. However, official sources remain hopeful that South Africa will finally lift its opposition. Incidentally Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting South Africa in early part of July along with three other countries in that continent. Sources pointed out to South Africa’s close and historical relations with India will be guiding factor for the Jacob Zuma government in tilting in India’s favour.
Incidentally neither South Africa nor Turkey unlike Austria, Ireland, New Zealand and China was opposed to a clean waiver for India in 2008. “South Africa is in two-minds regarding India’s decision to seek membership of NSG. There’s ongoing internal debate within the administration on the issue,” a source in the South African government told .
As the apartheid rule was nearing end South Africans abandoned nuclear weapons and thereafter joined NPT as a non nuclear weapons state. Since then it has championed global nuclear non-proliferation and joined Pelindaba Treaty in 1996 along with 42 other states for African nuclear weapon free zone. It is also a signatory to CTBT. However, there are reports that South Africa possesses dual use nuclear capabilities.
Meanwhile, after President’s visit to New Zealand, India has also tried to reach out to Wellington through resource persons to discuss the issue of its opposition to India’s application for NSG summited on May 12. On June 9 NSG Vienna meet India’s application was admitted amid objections by above mentioned NSG members in addition to China on the process be applied for entry of non-NPT states. It is also understood that USA following its good relations with New Zealand could prevail upon it to support India’s case at NSG. Officials indicated that discussions are also ongoing with Austria to garner their support by narrowing the differences.