Home / India / NSG to hold unprecedented special session to discuss India’s Membership

NSG to hold unprecedented special session to discuss India’s Membership

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent for bilateral talks, sources say the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is reconvening, after the day’s plenary session ended, for a special session at 9 p.m. that may go into the night. “We may have to burn the midnight oil,” one delegate said, but did not confirm that India’s case at the NSG will definitely be put on the formal agenda.

Although the 48-member NSG meeting is a strictly closed-door affair, diplomatic sources from several countries have confirmed that the special session is expected to discuss “outstanding issues” that include India’s application for membership.

In a series of statements this week, China has maintained that the issue of non-NPT countries like India applying for membership is not on the agenda in Seoul. But several countries are understood to have raised India’s case during the first day of the two-day plenary on Thursday. Japan is understood to have even “welcomed” India’s application, calling for it to be considered.

Ramping up efforts, the Indian diplomatic team led by Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar has been meeting delegations from different countries, including Brazil, who have had some reservations about offering support through the day on the sidelines of the plenary in Hotel The Shilla in the hope of ensuring the membership issue is at least taken up on Thursday, or during the second session on Friday.

Diplomats cautioned against any optimism on the basis of the convening of a special session, pointing out that there may be several possible outcomes from the session. The NSG could agree to put off the decision until the next plenary next year, or at a special plenary later this year. In addition, the NSG could agree to China’s demand for a “criteria-based process”, and refer it to a committee that could involve delays as India and Pakistan’s current applications are considered, as well as the possibility of other non-signatories like Israel applying in the future.

India’s chief challenge is China, but also countries like Turkey, Ireland, Austria, and New Zealand that have expressed opposition. In order to be accepted as a member, India must ensure every NSG member is on board, as even one no-vote would scuttle its chances.

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In the past few days, countries like the U.S., the U.K. and France have made public proclamations of support to India’s bid, calling on other members to follow suit, while Russian President Putin said that India’s case was “special” and must be supported within the ambits of international law. The U.S., in particular, has been working the phones to canvas for India.Hosts South Korea and the country chairing the session, Argentina, have both been pushing India’s case as well, and have ensured several rounds of unofficial talk between the NSG members this past week.

Diplomats rejected criticism that India’s timeline was too “ambitious.” “What we are asking for is immediate membership”, a government source said on Wednesday, making it clear that India was not pursuing a compromise solution or a deferment of the decision as an option either.

“NSG members have discussed the question of non-NPT (countries that haven’t signed the Non Proliferation Treaty) several times since 2011, including up to the special session convened in Vienna on June 9-10” said a senior official, indicating that the time to bring it on the group’s formal agenda was now. China has been couching its opposition to India’s accession by calling for “criteria-based” process for entry of all non-NPT countries.

In the past few days, countries like the U.S., the U.K. and France have made public proclamations of support to India’s bid, calling on other members to follow suit, while Russian President Putin said that India’s case was “special” and must be supported within the ambits of international law. The U.S., in particular, has been working the phones to canvas for India. Hosts South Korea and the country chairing the session, Argentina, have both been pushing India’s case as well, and have ensured several rounds of unofficial talk between the NSG members this past week.

Diplomats rejected criticism that India’s timeline was too “ambitious.” “What we are asking for is immediate membership”, a government source said on Wednesday, making it clear that India was not pursuing a compromise solution or a deferment of the decision as an option either.

“NSG members have discussed the question of non-NPT (countries that haven’t signed the Non Proliferation Treaty) several times since 2011, including up to the special session convened in Vienna on June 9-10” said a senior official, indicating that the time to bring it on the group’s formal agenda was now. China has been couching its opposition to India’s accession by calling for “criteria-based” process for entry of all non-NPT countries.

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