India’s bid for NSG?

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIAL & COMMENTS - S Qa­mar Afzal Rizvi Email:rizvipeac­ere­

na­tional ef­forts to­wards non­pro­lif­er­a­tion of weapons of mass de­struc­tion and of their de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles.

In July 2006, the United States Congress amended US laws to al­low civil­ian nu­clear trade with India. In 2008, the NSG ex­empted India from the re­quire­ment adopted by the NSG in 1992 banning nu­clear co­op­er­a­tion with any state that had not ac­cepted IAEA com­pre­hen­sive safe­guards. That move al­lowed India to en­gage in nu­clear trade with NSG mem­bers. India got its ex­emp­tion on the ba­sis of cer­tain ‘non­pro­lif­er­a­tion com­mit­ments’ that in­clude: sep­a­rat­ing its civil­ian and mil­i­tary nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties in a phased man­ner; plac­ing civil nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties un­der IAEA safe­guards; sign­ing and ad­her­ing to the IAEA’s Ad­di­tional Pro­to­col; con­tin­u­ing its uni­lat­eral mora­to­rium on nu­clear test­ing; work­ing with the US for the con­clu­sion of the Fis­sile Ma­te­rial Cut-off Treaty (FMCT); re­frain­ing from the trans­fer of en­rich­ment and re­pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy to states that do not have them and sup­port­ing in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to limit their spread; in­tro­duc­ing com­pre­hen­sive ex­port con­trol leg­is­la­tion to se­cure nu­clear ma­te­rial; and ad­her­ing to the Mis­sile Tech­nol­ogy Con­trol Regime (MTCR) and NSG guide­lines.

While ex­am­in­ing and jux­ta­pos­ing India’s non -pro­lif­er­a­tion com­mit­ments with those of NSG’s mem­ber­ship guide­lines, one may rea­son­ably ar­gue that India is far away from the path of ful­fill­ing ‘mem­ber­ship re­quire­ments’. But to em­brace India as an NSG mem­ber, ef­fort were started af­ter Pres­i­dent Obama vis­its India in 2010, is­su­ing a joint state­ment which stated that: “he United States in­tends to sup­port India’s full mem­ber­ship in the four mul­ti­lat­eral ex­port con­trol regimes (Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group, Mis­sile Tech­nol­ogy Con­trol Regime, Aus­tralia Group, and Wasse­naar Ar­range­ment) in a phased man­ner, and to con­sult with regime mem­bers to en­cour­age the evo­lu­tion of regime mem­ber­ship cri­te­ria, con­sis­tent with main­tain­ing the core prin­ci­ples of these regimes, as the Gov­ern­ment of India takes steps to­wards the full adop­tion of the regimes’ ex­port con­trol re­quire­ments to re­flect its prospec­tive mem­ber­ship, with both pro­cesses mov­ing for­ward to­gether.”

Ar­guably, the US im­moral back­ing of India serves suf­fi­cient war­rants to vin­di­cate the truth that ‘re­alpoli­tik’ and the ‘power game’ is the rai­son de­tre that drives to trans­form the ex­ist­ing nu­clear car­tels up­set­ting the strate­gic en­vi­ron­ment -ar­gu­ing that morals—‘sup­port­ing le­git­i­macy’— don’t gov­ern the in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions. “This is not about an arms race and it’s not about nu­clear weapons. This is about the peaceful civil use of nu­clear en­ergy, and so we would cer­tainly hope that Pak­istan un­der­stands that,” State De­part­ment Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner re­cently told re­porters in Wash­ing­ton. Put truly, US ad­vo­cacy about India’s case much re­mains ques­tion­able.

States, such as Aus­tria, Ire­land or New Zealand, may rightly re­main op­posed on prin­ci­ple un­less ‘India joins the NPT’, which is ex­tremely un­likely as this would re­quire Delhi to dis­arm. They ar­gue that any di­lu­tion of non­pro­lif­er­a­tion or­der sets a dan­ger­ous prece­dent and thus India should not be given a spe­cial treat­ment as it has fu­elled arms race in South Asia. A key US Se­na­tor, Ed Markey, has warned that en­abling India to join the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group (NSG) would cause a “never-end­ing” nu­clear race in South Asia. “What you are do­ing is creating an ac­tion-re­ac­tion that is lead­ing to a never-end­ing es­ca­la­tion cy­cle that ul­ti­mately leads to de­vel­op­ment of nu­clear weapons in­clud­ing bat­tle­field nu­clear weapons,” Se­na­tor Markey warned US As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary for South Asia Nisha Biswal. It is in this back­drop that the US Se­nate’s panel has rightly de­manded that India must sign the Com­pre­hen­sive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and halt its fis­sile ma­te­rial pro­duc­tion be­fore ad­mit­ting into the NSG. Bei­jing is claim­ing that a ‘com­pul­sory’ re­quire­ment for NSG mem­ber­ship is that ‘the NSG mem­bers must be sig­na­to­ries to the NPT’. Apart from the rhetoric about the NPT, China has also en­cour­aged Pak­istan to ap­ply for NSG mem­ber­ship so as to link New Delhi’s en­try with that of Islamabad’s, know­ing well that there will be few tak­ers for Pak­istan’s case. A legally bind­ing nu­clear test­ing mora­to­rium, a ‘re­view’pro­vi­sion in case of India’s non­com­pli­ance with the non-pro­lif­er­a­tion com­mit­ments, and a pro­vi­sion deny­ing the trans­fer of en­rich­ment and re­pro­cess­ing (ENR) tech­nol­ogy, have been act­ing against it.

The waiver ne­go­ti­a­tion history sug­gests that India will again face ‘stiff re­sis­tance’ and de­mands for greater non-pro­lif­er­a­tion con­di­tions. As an ob­server to the NSG, the EU has to be pro­foundly con­cerned about the ‘le­git­i­macy yard­stick’ re­lated to this is­sue. Nev­er­the­less, en­su­ing the guide­lines of NSG there ex­ist strik­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween both India and Pak­istan, which if cri­te­ria based ap­proach fol­lowed, will re­sult in mak­ing both states to ‘qual­ify or fail’ as a mem­ber state. Given the NSG’s le­gal fidelity to the mem­ber­ship cri­te­ria guide­lines ac­com­pa­nied by the strate­gic ar­gu­ment— that India does not yet share ‘main­stream’ views about a range of in­ter­na­tional nu­clear com­mit­ments and thus would ac­tively di­lute the NSG’s com­mit­ment to non­pro­lif­er­a­tion and seek to weaken the group’s ties to the Nu­clear Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty (NPT) if it be­came a mem­ber— holds enough in­di­ca­tions for pre­sum­ing that the chances for a ‘work­able con­sen­sus’ re­gard­ing the In­dian bid are bleak. — The writer is an in­de­pen­dent ‘IR’ re­searcher based in Karachi.

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