Daily Current Affairs – 10th June, 2016DEVENDRA VISHWAKARMA
Quest for another Holy Grail – Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
India’s 30 year old effort to secure a permanent seat in UNSC has been characterized as the pursuit of a diplomatic holy grail.
A similar but less intense effort is on to seek admission to APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation).
India has now embarked on another quest to seek membership of NSG.
Nuclear Suppliers Group
- NSG is a body of 48 nuclear supplier countries established to prevent the civilian nuclear trade from being used for military purposes.
- It seeks to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment, technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
- It was formed in reaction to India’s nuclear technology demonstration test in 1974. And to prevent Indian advance towards nuclear weapons (to avoid diversion of nuke material exported from US and Canada to build nuclear warheads)
India successfully tested the Nuclear bomb (Smiling Buddha) on 18th May 1974. The bomb was detonated on army base in Pokhran Test Range in Rajasthan.
It was the first confirmed nuclear weapon test by a nation outside the five permanent members of UNSC.
The plutonium used in the test was created in the CIRUS reactor supplied by Canada and using Heavy water supplied by United States.
Why India wants to Join NSG?
- It gives access to the state of art technology that the countries within NSG possess.
- There is a pressing need to scale up nuclear power production in India. At present we can buy power plants from global market (NSG wavier in 2008) but, there are several technologies India can be denied as it is outside the NSG.
- With access to latest technology, India can commercialize the production of nuclear power equipment. This, in turn will boost innovation and high tech manufacturing in India and can be leveraged for economic and strategic benefits.
- Should India get access to advanced nuclear technologies, it can start building updated versions of its own fast breeder reactor and sell it to countries such as Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. Bangladesh is currently looking at buying Russian reactors for power generation.
- Having the ability to offer its own nuclear power plants to the world means spawning of an entire nuclear industry and related technology development. This could give the Make in India programme a big boost.
- We have an unstable and unpredictable neighbour. Signing NPT and CTBT to gain access to all the technologies would put curbs on any further nuclear tests. Hence NSG membership is significant here.
China and Pakistan factor-
- China is the main roadblock towards Indian ambition to join NSG.
- Should India get membership to the NSG, it can block Pakistan from its membership as entry into the grouping is by consensus only.
- This is one of the reasons why China is pushing to include Pakistan as well as pointing out that India as a non-signatory to the NPT cannot be a member.It comes down to a power game—keep India out and deny it access to various technologies.
- India’s contention is that its nuclear technologies are indigenously developed and it has a clean non-proliferation record unlike Pakistan and China.
Arguments against the inclusion of India to NSG
- “There are standards on nuclear proliferation to which other nuclear weapons states adhere and to which India doesn’t.”
- “United States has sought to bend the rules for India’s nuclear program to maintain India’s cooperation on trade and to counter China’s growing influence. In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a civilian nuclear deal with India that allowed it to trade in nuclear materials. This has encouraged Pakistan to keep expanding a nuclear weapons program.”
- “Membership would enhance India’s standing as a nuclear weapons state, but it is not merited until the country meets the group’s standards.”
- “India would be in a position to keep Pakistan, which has also applied for membership, from gaining membership because group decisions must be unanimous. That could give Pakistan, which at one time provided nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran, new incentives to misbehave.”
- India, despite being outside the NPT, is strictly adhered to the guidelines of NPT. China secretly sold nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan last year (violation of article 1 of NPT). Even if the US and Russia have cut the size of their arsenals – retaining enough to destroy each other and the world – China, France and Britain have shown no inclination to pursue negotiations on disarmament (clear violation of Article 4 of NPT)
- Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme is expanding, but it has nothing to do with the civilian nuclear deal India signed. A crucial part of that deal was a separation plan that India implemented in which it agreed to place several of its indigenous power reactors under international safeguards – thus surrendering the ability to use those reactors to produce fissile material for weapons.
- India aligned its export regulations with those of the NSG, it has also committed itself to implementing any new guidelines the group may adopt – even if this means hurting India’s commercial interests. The irony is that the NSG today has members, notably China, that do not meet the group’s standards.
- Before Pakistan aspires to membership of the NSG, shouldn’t it be encouraged to first sign on to the “responsibilities and practices”