France sup­ports, China plays hard­ball on NSG

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Su­tirtho Pa­tra­nobis and Jayanth Ja­cob let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

A day ahead of a cru­cial meet­ing of the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group (NSG), China on Wed­nes­day changed tack on In­dia’s en­try into the elite club, say­ing only ap­pli­ca­tions of coun­tries that signed an atomic non-pro­lif­er­a­tion pact will be con­sid­ered.

This is seen as a hard­en­ing of stand af­ter Beijing had said on Tues­day there was still “room for dis­cus­sion” on coun­tries such as In­dia.

Nei­ther In­dia nor Pak­istan, which also wants to get into the club of coun­tries con­trol­ling trade in sen­si­tive nu­clear tech­nol­ogy, has signed the nu­clear non-pro­lif­er­a­tion treaty (NPT). Pre­sent NSG rules al­low only NPT sig­na­to­ries to ap­ply for mem­ber­ship.

“De­lib­er­a­tion on the en­try of spe­cific coun­tries is on the agenda of the Seoul ple­nary meet­ing (June 23-24). How­ever, it is worth not­ing that the meet­ing is only to de­lib­er­ate on the en­try ap­pli­ca­tion of coun­tries that are state par­ties to the NPT,” the Chinese for­eign ministry said in a state­ment. “As for the en­try of non-NPT coun­tries, the group has never put that on its meet­ing agenda.”

The United States has al­ready put its weight be­hind In­dia, and on Wed­nes­day France re­it­er­ated its sup­port, say­ing New Delhi’s en­try will help bet­ter reg­u­late nu­clear trade.

“In line with its ac­tive and long­stand­ing sup­port to In­dia’s en­try to the NSG as a full-fledged mem­ber, France calls on its mem­bers… to take a pos­i­tive de­ci­sion,” the French for­eign ministry said in a state­ment.

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