China on Sunday said more discussion was needed to forge consensus on the issue of countries not signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty NPT) joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 48-member bloc that India has applied to join.
“China’s stance is applicable to all non-signatories to the NPT, not just certain countries. Many other NSG member states also hold the same stance,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said.
Hong’s clarificaton was to a question relating to China, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria having objected to India’s accession to the NSG because New Delhi has not signed the NPT.
Hong also said that the NSG Chair, the Argentine ambassador, convened an unofficial meeting on June 9 in Geneva but there was “no deliberation on any items related to the accession to the NSG by India or any other countries that are not signatories” to the NPT.
According to him, the NSG chair said the meeting has no agenda and is only convened to heed opinions from all parties on the outreach of the NSG and prepare for a report to be submitted at the NSG Plenary Meeting in Seoul later this month.
Alluding to India and Pakistan, Hong said that “China has noted that some non-NPT countries aspire to join the NSG. When it comes to the accession by non-NPT countries, China maintains that the group should have full discussion before forging consensus and making decisions based on agreement.
“The NPT provides a political and legal foundation for the international non-proliferation regime as a whole. China’s position applies to all non-NPT countries and targets no one in particular. The fact is that many countries within the group also share China’s stance,” he said.
He said NSG members are divided on the issue of admitting non-NPT countries.
“China will continue to support further discussion within the group to forge consensus at an early date. China will proceed with relevant discussion in a constructive manner. China has always supported a full discussion within the NSG on the membership issue and a decision based on the consensus of all sides through consultation,” he said.
Both India and Pakistan applied in May to join the grouping that regulates global nuclear trade.
India has secured crucial backing for its membership from Mexico, Italy and Switzerland and the US, even as Pakistan has been lobbying hard to scuttle India’s membership bid.