The entry would have been a logical step of the earlier NSG exemption to India in 2008. These would have enabled India to become a legitimate nuclear power.
The NSG was hurriedly cobbled in 1998 to punish India for forcibly entering the nuclear club! It was anti-one-nation agenda, and it is ironic that that nation is now seeking entry! Despite these controls, India mastered nuclear technology in isolation indigenously. The barriers have been lowered periodically but not removed.
The attempt of opening up the Indian nuclear industry to the international mainstream by the USA in 2007 has been a cautious step with “conditions apply” tag in small letters! There are dubious clauses in India-USA 123 agreement by which the USA retains its veto rights. One of the terms is making it mandate to the President certifying annually to the Senate that no extra nuclear material is diverted by India. The labour pain is again reflected in the recent rejection in the US Senate of seeking to consider India as a “global strategic and defence partner.” Despite President Obama’s open support for India bilaterally the USA continues to have restrictions not only on imports of rudimentary nuclear gadgets but even on personal visits by Indian nuclear scientists.
The NSG membership would have given India more legitimacy for its numerous bilateral agreements. This arrangement is critical since India must have an unclogged supply of uranium for its technically sound nuclear power program. India is not desperate to have technical assistance from any NSG countries. In fact, most countries except 5 or 6 members are all inferior to India in nuclear technology. Many NSG members may have uranium resources but not the technology, and they will only gain from an Indian collaboration. Further, India has an impeccable record on non-proliferation. Thus, international non-proliferation initiative will only gain by Indian participation.
But in 2016 the issue of admitting India to NSG met with the stone wall of China, despite USA siding India. China suspects that the motive behind the US sponsoring is to prop up India to counterbalance China in the Asia Pacific region. By equating India with Pakistan, China was seeking a cynical delight. Thus, an intriguing twist of equations denied India of NSG entry. It perhaps has nothing to do with the holy gospel of non-proliferation. Every member country seems to have its agenda in the back of the mind!
China wants to be the only superpower in Asia
It is now apparent that by constituting the NSG back in 1998, USA overstretched itself. It made NSG a super body over which it let go all controls. They made it into a consensus body so that even a single member can veto any decisions. They might be regretting it today! For China, non-proliferation is not an issue in the present campaign against India, though they swear by it. Remember, China grew up only by proliferation as the China-Pakistan-North Korea connections are too well-known. Its concern is to work towards becoming the only Asian Superpower.
The India NSG entry campaign has thus ended for the time being. In the process, China has hijacked NSG from the USA. The Chinese used the same generic arguments of the principle of non-proliferation which was utilised by the USA in cobbling up this NSG group in 1998. Strangely, though the USA backed India’s application, it didn’t seem to contest China’s vociferous arguments against admitting India!
What lies ahead? Even with the status quo, the nuclear commerce is going on well for India under the existing international and bilateral agreements and that should suffice for it to grow. The India-Russia program of the setting of nuclear power stations is active. Once we implement the India-USA-Japan, and India-France agreements, strengthen opening up of nuclear commerce in India.
All isn’t lost.