India and NSG Membership: Analysis for IAS Preparation

Current affairs of National and International importance is a part of IAS Syllabus. India is seeking NSG Membership with all its international diplomatic efforts but our nation has to wait for some more time.

Created On: Jul 1, 2016 19:08 IST

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. As per the NSG Guidelines a supplier, authorizes a transfer of nuclear technologies to other nations only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

This treaty was signed among 48 nuclear supplying countries to ensure nuclear trade for peaceful purposes and non proliferation on response to India's nuclear test in 1974 at Pokhran. This treaty laid norms for nuclear materials and technology which could exported and imported and it also prevents proliferation by banning the sale of few materials used for weapon making. NSG is guided by the principle of Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to prevent spread of nuclear materials, technology and weapons.

NSG guidelines govern the exports or transfer of nuclear material, nuclear reactors and equipment, non-nuclear material for reactors, plant and equipment for the reprocessing, enrichment, and conversion of nuclear material and for fuel fabrication and heavy water production, technology associated with each of the above items. Nuclear-related dual-use items and technologies (items that have both nuclear and non-nuclear applications) are also regulated and govern under NSG.

India and NSG Membership

India has been trying to get into NSG since 2008 and has been making immense effort since then. It indeed got substantial success in the form of NSG waiver in 2008 which led it to sign various nuclear agreement pacts with many countries including US. Since then almost all the countries of the world have been batting for India's unconditional entry into NSG. World powers like US, UK, Russia etc. have put all its weight behind India to get it the deserving membership. However, the main opposition is coming from China apart from Pakistan, Turkey, Switzerland etc.

The most critical eligibility condition for the NSG membership is to be a signatory of the NPT. It is the principle of NSG that a country which is a non signatory of NPT, CTBT etc. Should not be given a NSG membership. Hence, the biggest hurdle remains that of the adherence to the procedure of NSG admission, which is being highlighted persistently with China.

However, India has already been getting the waiver to receive nuclear technologies through various civil nuclear agreements for last eight years and hence it can be considered as partial membership of NSG. Moreover, in 2011, NSG plenary was enacted to strengthen NSG guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies It meant that now India is not all free to conduct any trade of nuclear. Hence, this has triggered a need to get into this group and amend this rule.

India considers the signing of NPT as biased and discriminatory. India has been voluntarily adhering to various norms and principles of NPT, which can be definitely be considered to signing of NPT. These points are substantiated by following:

  • India has declared a voluntary moratorium on further underground nuclear tests
  • India effectively acts in sense and spirit of NPT
  • India's No First Use Policy makes it a responsible nuclear power.
  • India has pledged not to use its nuclear weapons unless faced with an attack of weapons of mass destruction.

Supporting Points for India

  • India has accepted full-scale IAEA safeguards.
  • It has already acquired high-level expertise in the peaceful use of nuclear energy in industry, power, agriculture and health care, research and nuclear reactors.
  • India’s membership shall not only benefit it but also encourage civil nuclear trade globally without compromising on world peace and harmony. Rather it will act as a force to reckon with in maintaining nuclear peace.
  •  India has received MTCR membership and is already adhering to NSG guidelines.
  • India has also been adhering to the IAEA safeguards and has placed all its civil nuclear facilities under its safeguards.

Advantages for India

Although a nuclear capable state, India heavily lacks in the cutting-edge technologies and nuclear fuels. After NSG inclusion, the major difference will be evident in following areas.

  • By becoming the NSG member, India can have better international trade in nuclear items, thereby boosting its export as well as enhancing technological imports.
  • India lacks in the modern technologies as well as in the nuclear fuels sources. NSG membership will give it access to all these without any hiccups and interruptions. These will go a long way in strengthening the clean energy energy security of India.
  • By becoming a member of NSG we will have access to sophisticated foreign technologies as all nuclear based programs of India is being run on indigenous technogoly.
  • •    India will also have the authority and mandate to sell nuclear related products and technologies to other countries, thereby upping its ante. This will also be in consonance with India's 'make in India' initiative.

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Indian Strategic Interest

Despite its dissonance to NPT, India has been trying hard to acquire the NSG membership. Apart from surge in the boost to domestic industries, energy security, accumulation of power vis-a-vis its adverse neighbors etc. Following are some of the strategic interests associated with NSG membership for India. These have further been enumerated by following points:

  • India has aspirations to act as a bigger player in the international arena where nuclear commerce norms are laid.
  • India as well as its strategic partners like US want it to possess various critical technologies like nuclear, missile, space, defense, so as to strengthened it. India has already gaining expertise in space technologies. It has been provided entry into MTCR, thereby enhancing its missile technological expertise as well. NSG entry may make it adroit in the nuclear technologies as well.
  • India will have to enhance its excessive reliance on non-conventional sources like nuclear energy. NSG membership will ameliorate its strategic energy security in the times to come.
  • India must have the access to the best of nuclear technologies available in the world today to cope up with its adverse neighbors like China and Pakistan.
  • The access to such groups will empower India to raise the voice against nuclear proliferating country like Pakistan.

Indian inclusion and the Energy Security of India

India is a fast growing developing nation. The persistent rise in the energy demands is well evident in the present scenario. However, owing to its environment commitments, reliance on other countries for fossil fuels, fast depleting non-renewable sources of energy, deficiency in solar and wind energy technologies and its goal of sourcing almost 40% of its energy from non-fossil sources, Nuclear energy has been the panacea for the India of 21st centuries. The entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group can be a game changer for India to fulfill such energy needs. Entry into NSG group will provide efficient and ample access of nuclear technologies to India, thereby assuring it of the energy security for the future.

Countries Opposing India's NSG Membership

The main hurdle for India's NSG entry is the procedural flaws, which India can not overcome without signing the NPT in its present form. However, most of the countries have agreed for the India's inclusion based on India's clean and benign record and its Nuclear Doctrine. Unfortunately, counties like China, Turkey, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Ireland and Austria, With the first three being the most vocal. However, China and Turkey being the members of NSG are most critical opposition for India's admission into NSG. Most of the opposition however has been because of the possible undermining efforts to prevent proliferation.

Opposition by China

China is opposing the India's entry into NSG by highlighting procedural hurdles, which says non-NPT signatory countries can not join NSG. However, this Chinese opposition is morally flawed as  It has agreed for the inclusion of India if Pakistan is also admitted in NGS, as both these countries are non-NPT signatories. Hence, China is actually playing Pakistan's card with India.

China being a strong allies of Pakistan, which in turn acts as a bulwark for India's progress, is actually paving the way for Pakistan into NSG rather than opposing India. However, no one is willing to give Pakistan an entry due to its pathetic reputation of being proliferator of nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

China may be opposing the India's entry into NSG to bargain its own entry into Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Since, India has become a member of MTCR and China is not, hence China wants to push for its own membership into MTCR, if Indian NSG admission is to be allowed.

Opposition by Turkey

Turkey and Pakistan has always been all weather friend right from the creation of Pakistan. Turkey has supported Pakistan in Kashmir issue and in coping up with various natural hazards like earthquakes and floods. Indian Muslims of the area, currently known as Pakistani people, have helped Turkey in the Turkish war of independence immediately after world war I.

Pakistan was also one of the countries that offered the most assistance to Turkey after the 1999 Marmara Earthquake. Both these countries have deep cultural and religious ties. Hence, Turkey also wants the inclusion of Pakistan along with India into NSG. Turkey does not want to support only India and antagonizing its friend Pakistan.


Apart from India's continued efforts to get into the prestigious NSG, it is the Barack Obama's personal keen interest which has gathered the storm in recent times. Us president wants to deliver India's NSG admission, if not the permanent membership of

UNSC, before he makes the way for a newcomer. In spite of India's deserving claim, its impeccable nuclear records, adherence to almost all the global treaties and policies and benign Nuclear Doctrine, India's entry into NSG is entangled into diplomatic games.

For China, the inclusion of India into NSG may not have much effect directly. However, it is the Pakistan which is being kept in mind by China as well as Turkey. The latter along with many other opposing countries can be soothed by US. However, the China's acceptance may be a tough nut to crack for Indian diplomacy. MTCR membership for China can act as a way out in the near future, but it will be easier said than done.

India will be looking for the NSG membership for its commercial, strategic and diplomatic needs and it should continue to make diplomatic endeavors to build consensus among all the present 48 members of NSG for its hyped entry.

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