Issue Brief on “NSG Membership Debate: Recent Developments”

The debate over extending membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to non-NPT nuclear weapons states, particularly to India and Pakistan has been intensified lately. Major powers including US, key officials and nuclear experts, supportive of India’s entry into the NSG, are putting pressure on the NSG and are coming up with certain proposals like the Grossi formula, which are not only discriminatory in nature against non-NPT states like Pakistan, but they could also undermine the spirit of international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

When one looks at the spirit and mandate of NSG, it is evident that during the June 2016 twenty-sixth NSG Plenary Meeting at Seoul, the NSG Participating Governments (PGs) focused on reinforcing the spirit and the purpose of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and stressed on NPT’s full, complete and effective implementation to counter the evolving nuclear threats. The group “reaffirmed its determination to continue to cooperate closely in order to deter, hinder and prevent the transfer of controlled items or technology that could contribute to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” At this Plenary Meeting, the Indian bid to seek the NSG membership was blocked by more than 10 PGs, including China, and Pakistan’s application also yielded no positive response due to their non-NPT status. Afterwards, the US and India increased their diplomatic efforts to convince NSG PGs including China, to accommodate India into the Group. However, the stalemate continued during the extraordinary meeting of the NSG PGs at Vienna in November 2016. At least 12 NSG members at the meeting called for a criteria-based approach. These included China, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, Belgium, Brazil and Russia. At that meeting China also maintained that any formula worked out should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT states.

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