India's activist diplomacy to secure entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has been criticised in some quarters in India consequent upon China having foiled it.
The main arguments propounded by the critics are that such activism was unwarranted as NSG membership is unimportant, that India would be a second class member, and that the setback faced by it constitutes a major embarrassment for the nation. The aforesaid arguments are completely ill founded.
India's membership of the NSG and other proliferation control regimes notably the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement is important in order to shatter the myth of it being an 'outlier' to the non-proliferation regime as also to facilitate its trade, both imports and exports, of nuclear, missile and other related sensitive technologies.
Membership of these regimes will enhance India's status in this critical area from merely an adherent to a rule maker.
It will also enable India to ensure that these regimes perform their mandated role of promoting non-proliferation effectively and not hurt its commercial interests.
Finally, though a waiver was accorded by the NSG in 2008 for effecting exports to India of sensitive materials and equipment for its civil nuclear programme this is not cast in stone and can only be fully safeguarded by India's membership of the NSG.
|China sought to hyphenate Pakistan with India by encouraging the former to also apply for membership. (Reuters)|
The issue had, moreover, acquired an immediacy as India's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution set out at Paris envisages a 40 per cent non fossil power generation capacity by 2030 and without NSG membership this cannot be assured.
While it is true that India is ineligible for trade in reprocessing and enrichment equipment as it is not signatory of the NPT because of an NSG amendment adopted in 2011, this will not make India a second class member.
India will, in fact, be a privileged member as it will be the only non-NPT state admitted on the basis of its record. Indeed, the aforesaid constraint imposed on India underlines the importance of securing membership of the NSG for if India had been member prior to 2011 such an amendment would not have been possible.
The NSG Seoul Plenary not having admitted India as a member, despite a high voltage campaign by it, is by no means an embarrassment, as the process for admission is still in place and as it received overwhelming support with as many as 38 of the 48 members strongly supporting it, including heavy weights like USA, Russia, France, UK, Japan, Australia, and Canada.
If anything, the Plenary reflected China's isolation as it was the only country blocking discussion on India's application. If at all others such as Austria, New Zealand and Ireland spoke, it was on process and not against India.
India's high level activist diplomacy ought to be lauded rather than decried. We are fortunate in having in Modi a prime minister who actually leads from the front.
While it may not always bring instant success but it surely places the country firmly on the path towards it by signalling the importance attached by the country to its objective.
India's recent membership of the MTCR is one such success of the government's activist diplomacy which would have eluded us had we been scared of trying. In diplomacy, as in life, it is a case of nothing venture nothing gain.
Above all, the Seoul exercise was a reality check. It fully exposed China's animus towards India. Firstly, it sought to hyphenate Pakistan with India by encouraging the former to also apply for membership though unlike India, it was not adhering to NSG guidelines, had not separated its civil and military nuclear programmes, had not signed the Additional Protocol etc.
Secondly, it argued that India's admittance to the NSG was problematic as the latter had not signed the NPT.
This was no more than a ruse to delay the process as there are no mandatory criteria for membership only a number of factors to be considered such as non proliferation record, restraint in nuclearisation and immediate benefits that would accrue.
India's credentials for membership on all counts are impressive and certainly much superior to those of Pakistan.
In this context, it may specifically be mentioned that while India enjoys an impeccable record Pakistan has earned notoriety as a proliferator, while India has shut down one of its two research reactors Pakistan has increased the same from one to four, and while the rate of fissile material production in India has not increased that in Pakistan has gone up.
China's role at Seoul will not be without consequences. It will cast doubts in the minds of the international community on the maturity of its leaders and adversely influence India's leadership and people on issues critical to China like those pertaining to the South China Sea, imports from China etc.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)