Washington: Amid China's opposition, the US has given a fresh push to India's NSG membership bid by asking members of the elite club to support India's entry into the grouping during the ongoing plenary meeting in Seoul.
"We believe, and this has been US policy for some time, that India is ready for membership and the United States calls on participating governments to support India's application at the plenary session of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
"At the same time, participating governments will need to reach a consensus decision in order to admit any applicant into the group and the United States will certainly be advocating for India's membership," Earnest said as the 5-day annual plenary session of the 48-member club began in the South Korean capital yesterday.
His remarks came after China said India's membership is not on the agenda of the NSG meeting in Seoul. The NSG remains divided over non-NPT countries like India becoming its members, China's Foreign Ministry had said yesterday less than 24 hours after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj exuded hope that "we would be able to convince China to support our entry to the NSG."
US President Barack Obama, Earnest said, had an opportunity to discuss the issue of India's NSG membership bid with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their White House meeting earlier this month.
"The United States, as you know, strongly supports India's application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group," Earnest said.
"We have made our views known both publicly and privately, and we'll continue to do so," Earnest said when asked if the US has reached out to members of the NSG in support of India's application.
At a separate news conference, the State Department reiterated the same views.
"As you know, during Prime Minister Modi's visit, the President welcomed India's application to join the NSG and reaffirmed that India is ready for membership. We continue to call on the participating governments, the NSG, to support India's application at the plenary session this week itself," State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference.
"India's application is something we have routinely talked to other NSG participating members. This is not a new topic of discussion that we've had privately with the members," Kirby said.
Last week as well, the US had called on members of the nuclear trading club to support India's membership. While majority of the elite group members backed India's membership, it is understood that apart from China, countries like Turkey, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand were not in favour of India's entry into the NSG.
China maintains opposition to India's entry, arguing that it has not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
However, it has been batting for its close ally Pakistan's entry if NSG extends any exemption for India. Pakistan applied for NSG membership, a week after India submitted its membership application.
India has asserted that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG as there has been a precedent in this regard, citing the case of France.
India is seeking membership of NSG to enable it to trade in and export nuclear technology. The access to the NSG, which regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for energy-starved India, which has an ambitious energy generation programme. India is looking at 63,000 MW energy requirement through the nuclear programme by 2030.
The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership of the grouping will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector.
India has been reaching out to NSG member countries seeking support for its entry. The NSG works under the principle of consensus and even one country's vote against India will scuttle its bid....