Seat at nuclear high table is ever closer
India is rejoicing over news that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brokered deals with US officials to bring New Delhi closer to its long-held dream of joining an elite group of nations allowed to control the global trade in nuclear materials, equipment and technology.
Newspapers have run daily front-page stories heralding progress on the nuclear front after US President Barack Obama came out in support of Indian membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which led other nations including Mexico and Switzerland to suggest they, too, were on board. Diplomats in Vienna suggested on Thursday that India is closer than ever to joining the NSG, despite never fulfilling the requirement of signing a global treaty aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.
But would India’s entry into the club make any difference? Some analysts say no, at least not from a technical standpoint.
India has already managed to secure access to nuclear fuel and technology to build power plants it says it needs to boost energy capacity and drive economic growth for the nation of 1.25 billion people.
Analysts say joining the NSG is chiefly a matter of pride and desire to be taken seriously by some of the world's most powerful nations. Since prompting international technology sanctions and limits on exports by conducting nuclear tests in 1998, India has been eager to gain legitimacy as a nuclear power.
“In practical terms, there is nothing extra that the NSG will give India other than a seat at the nuclear high table,” said Rakesh Sood, a retired diplomat closely associated with India's nuclear negotiations.