During a Lok Sabha debate on Wednesday, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj asserted that India will never sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), despite its bid to join the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group. She also asserted that New Delhi had not stopped “trying to engage with China” to change its stand against India’s bid. The Minister made these comments in response to the Opposition’s questions about the current status of India’s bid to become a member of the 48-member international body. On June 23, at least five countries had blocked India’s NSG membership bid in Seoul during a plenary meeting of the group.
These nations had opposed India’s bid, saying it was ineligible because it was not a signatory to the NPT. Although the opposition to India based on procedural reasons is valid, it is no secret that Beijing’s actions stem from a desire to support its ally, Pakistan, which has also applied for membership. It’s also well known that US President Barack Obama wants India to become a major player in its “Pivot to Asia” doctrine, which essentially seeks to contain China’s growing presence in the maritime theatres of the South China Sea, Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. Washington’s support for India’s membership essentially stems from this rationale.
Experts contend that membership to the NSG is one of the steps towards the much-desired aim of a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. There is nothing terribly wrong with the idea. The only problem has been the Centre’s over-exuberant approach to the entire issue, as argued in these columns earlier.