By Categories: Editorials, FP & IR

Mexico, Italy back India’s NSG bid:-

As the extraordinary two-day plenary of the Nuclear Suppliers Group began in Vienna on recently to discuss membership applications, India’s chances received a boost from Mexico, considered a “non-proliferation hardliner” thus far.

“As a country we are going to be positively and constructively supporting India’s (membership at the NSG) in recognition of the commitment by PM Modi to the International agenda of disarmament and non proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said after a meeting between the two leaders.

Mr. Modi was in Mexico on the last leg of his five-nation tour, and his visits to both Mexico and Switzerland, which also announced its support, were aimed at garnering backing for entry to the NSG, given that both countries have held strong positions on non-proliferation in the past.

Italy, which had earlier blocked India’s entry over issue of the arrest of Marines accused of killing Indian fishermen, has indicated that it will support India’s case.

India’s biggest concern from the 48-nation group comes from China, which has argued that NSG members must be signatories to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel are among countries that have not signed the NPT, which India believes is discriminatory.

India expects ‘domino effect’ on support

Given China’s public opposition to India’s entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), India has been working on garnering support of other countries in the group to isolate China.

Others still hesitant

Though NSG negotiations are held behind closed doors and a final decision is expected by consensus at the plenary session in Seoul on June 24 and 25, agency reports from Vienna say Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and Austria are among countries still holding out on India.

In particular, Pakistan’s application for membership, which will also be taken up, is expected to queer the pitch.China was “hardening its position” on Pakistan being given the same consideration as India but Pakistan’s poor record in nuclear proliferation and in not having brought its facilities under IAEA safeguards would make it an unlikely candidate for support.

Analysis :-

  1. It was a pleasant to know that Mexico and Italy supporting India’s cause, becasue both of the countries opposed India’s UNSC membership, recall “Coffee Club”(Uniting for Consensus (UfC) is a movement, nicknamed the Coffee Club, that developed in the 1990s in opposition to the possible expansion of permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council. Under the leadership of Italy) vs G4( Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan are four countries which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council)
  2. Members of  “Coffee Club ” –
    1. Italy,South Korea,Canada,Spain,Mexico,Turkey,Argentina,Pakistan,Malta
  3. This shows good diplomacy and India’s record as a peace loving nation – not only in preaching but also in practice  puts  India in forefront for garnering support.


The NSG was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 and first met in November 1975. The test demonstrated that certain non-weapons specific nuclear technology could be readily turned to weapons development. Nations already signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear equipment, materials or technology. Another benefit was that non-NPT and non-Zangger Committee nations, then specifically France, could be brought in.

The Zangger Committee, also known as the Nuclear Exporters Committee, sprang from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which entered into force on March 5, 1970. Under the terms,International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards must be applied to nuclear exports.

 UN plans to end AIDS threat by 2030:-

Speaking at a high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) recently, Health Minister J.P. Nadda reiterated India’s commitment to fast track progress on ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

At the meeting, member states adopted a new political declaration, including time-bound global targets to be reached over the next five years and end the epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.

The UNGA meeting brings together heads of state and government, people living with HIV (PLHIVs), and donor organisations, to reiterate their commitments made in the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS and to set the world on course to end the epidemic by 2030 within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mr. Nadda has proposed a five-point strategy to end AIDS. He stated that India was committed to enforcing TRIPS flexibilities to make drugs affordable. “India is proud of being one of the leading partners in the global fight against AIDS epidemic. These remarkable successes would not have been possible without access to affordable medicines. The low cost generic medicines produced by the Indian pharmaceutical industry have been instrumental in scaling up access to HIV treatment not only in India but in other parts of the world. More than 80% of the antiretroviral drugs used globally are supplied by the Indian pharmaceutical industry,” he said.

The five-point strategy includes adoption of the fast track target — reaching 90% of all people in need with HIV treatment — committed to maintain the TRIPS flexibilities; creating an inclusive society with programmes that work towards restoring the respect and dignity of individuals, and lastly, global solidarity. “Prevention must be our primary goal. Prevention must not be forgotten. We need to increase investments. This is the time for developed countries to do more, not less. We are in this fight together to end the AIDS epidemic,” said Mr. Nadda, addressing the high-level meeting.

The world has achieved Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 — which was to halt and reverse the AIDS epidemic by 2015. However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that an action taken now could avert an estimated 17.6 million new infections and 11 million premature deaths between 2016 and 2030. “We must make a radical change within the next five years, if we are to achieve that goal. That requires commitment at every level: from the global health infrastructure, to all Member States, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations, to the United Nations Security Council that has dealt with AIDS as a humanitarian issue and a threat to human and national security.”

The Secretary-General called on the international community to reinforce and expand on the “unique, multi-sector, multi-actor approach” of UNAIDS, and to ensure that the annual target of $26 billion in funding, including $13 billion for the next three years, is met.

What are MTCR and NSG, and why does India want to be their part:-

What is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)?

Established in April 1987, it is a voluntary association of 34 countries — 35, once India is formally included — and four “unilateral adherents” that follow its rules: Israel, Romania, Slovakia, Macedonia. The group aims to slow the spread of missiles and other unmanned delivery technology that could be used for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks. The regime urges members, which include most of the world’s major missile manufacturers, to restrict exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500 kg payload at least 300 km, or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.

What does India need to do to get in?

Prospective members must win consensus approval from existing members. United States policy had been that members that are not recognised nuclear-weapon states — including India — must eliminate or forgo ballistic missiles able to deliver a 500 kg payload at least 300 km. The US, however, made an exception in 1998 for Ukraine, permitting it to retain Scud missiles and, in October 2012, South Korea was allowed to keep ballistic missiles with an 800-km range and 500-kg payload that could target all of North Korea.

For India, the US seems to have waived these terms, allowing it retain its missile arsenal. India’s membership should come through formally whenever the next MTCR Plenary meeting takes place — the last one was held in Rotterdam in October 2015.

How does the MTCR work?

Members must have national policies governing export of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, space launch vehicles, drones, remotely piloted vehicles, sounding rockets, and their components. There are two categories of exports: Category I, which are basically exports of complete products and major sub-systems and are meant to be extremely rare — with guidelines instructing members that “there will be strong presumption to deny transfers”; and Category II, which includes materials, technologies and components whose transfers can be made more easily, since they generally have civilian applications, even though these too are done with caution.

Does joining the MTCR make getting missile technology easier?

There are no special concessions for MTCR members. But India hopes its MTCR membership will be one more reason for the US to consider exporting Category 1 UAVs, Reaper and Global Hawk, which have been key to counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. These drones have so far been sold to only one country, the UK, though unarmed versions have also been made available to Italy and South Korea. The US has been rethinking rules on exports, aware that competitors in Israel, Russia and China are working on similar products — and India wants to be at the head of the queue when the Reaper and the Global Hawk go on the market.

Are there any sanctions for breaking MTCR rules?

Rulebreakers can’t be punished. However, US law mandates sanctions for companies and governments that export MTCR-controlled items. The sanctioned entity can’t sign contracts, buy arms and receive aid for two years or more.

Does the MTCR actually stop the spread of missile technology?

Yes and no. North Korea, Iran and Pakistan acquired ballistic missile technology from China. But then, China began to feel the pinch of US technology sanctions — and announced, in November 2000, that it would stop exporting ballistic missile technology. Four years later, it applied for MTCR membership — but has been denied entry because of suspicion that some companies in the country are secretly supplying technology to North Korea.

Many others dropped missile programmes because of MTCR pressure: Argentina abandoned its Condor II ballistic missile programme (on which it was working with Egypt and Iraq) to join the regime. Brazil, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan shelved or eliminated missile or space launch vehicle programmes. Poland and the Czech Republic destroyed their ballistic missiles.

It is possible China may now seek some kind of bargain, whereby it is given entry to the MTCR in return for letting India get into the NSG, where it wields a veto.

Why does India want to be in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?

Following India’s 1974 nuclear tests, the US pushed for setting up a club of nuclear equipment and fissile material suppliers. The 48-nation group frames and implements agreed rules for exporting nuclear equipment, with a view to controlling the spread of nuclear weapons; members are admitted only by consensus. India has been trying, since 2008, to join the group, which would give it a place at the high table where the rules of nuclear commerce are decided — and, eventually, the ability to sell equipment. Many countries that initially opposed its entry, like Australia, have changed stance; Mexico and Switzerland are the latest to voice support. India’s effort has been to chip away at the resistance, leaving only one holdout — China. But until China accepts India’s entry, there is no hope of membership.

Why does the US want India in the NSG?

The answer lies in the US effort to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, whose centrepiece is the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT. The NPT defines “nuclear weapons states” as those that tested devices before January 1, 1967 — which means India cannot ever be one. India — like Israel and Pakistan — thus refused to sign the treaty. From 2005, though, President George W Bush’s administration sought ways to deepen strategic cooperation with India. Nuclear energy was a key means to strengthen cooperation, but since India wasn’t a member of the NPT, technology couldn’t be shared. Then, a way forward was found — the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. India agreed to separate its civilian and military nuclear programmes, and put the civilian part under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. India also changed its export laws to line up with the NSG, MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, and Australia Group — the four key nuclear control regimes. The US agreed to shepherd Indian entry into these regimes, which meant India would for all practical purposes be treated like an NPT member, even though it wasn’t one.

Why doesn’t Pakistan want India in?

The Pakistani argument is that giving India easy access to fissile material and technology for its civilian nuclear programme means it would have that much more material for its military nuclear programme. Thus, Pakistan says, the move to give India NSG membership is fuelling a nuclear arms race. But this argument falls apart because Pakistan is resolutely opposed to a key international agreement called the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), which would cap the military nuclear stockpiles of all countries. The FMCT ought to put an end to Pakistan’s fears, but Islamabad has refused to sign.

And what is China’s problem?

Chinese diplomats say Beijing wants NSG entry to be norm-based — in other words, whatever rules govern Indian entry should apply to others too. Norm-based entry would, presumably, help Pakistan gain entry, something many in the NSG are certain to resist because of the country’s record as a proliferator of nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Why then did China go along with the NSG waiver in 2008?

Geopolitics. The 2008 one-time waiver allowed nuclear commerce between NSG members and India — the agreement that now allows Westinghouse, and its competitors in France or South Korea, to bid to set up civilian reactors in India. The waiver came only after President Bush rang President Hu Jintao and called in a favour. Back then, US-China relations were riding high — on the back of surging trade, and a common vision of how the international order should be structured. Today, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping are at odds over Chinese muscle-flexing in the South China Sea. The odds of a phone call changing the state of play are next to zero.

What might tip the odds?

India and the US have cards to play. China wants membership of the MTCR — and to enter that club, and see an end to key technology sanctions, it needs US help. European Union states too have denied China exports of critical military technologies, which might be a bargaining chip. All depends on how well India bargains — and how much Pakistan’s NSG membership actually means to China. Either way, this is going to be long diplomatic haul.


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