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Anuj Aggarwal asked: What should be India's diplomatic strategy to get into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?

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  • G. Balachandran replies: With respect to the Indian membership, the NSG members can be grouped under three categories:

    1) Those who are satisfied with the NSG conditionalities already accepted by India at the time of the 2008 NSG exemption and are in favour of admitting India without any further concessions from India. This group would probably be the largest of the three groups.

    2) The second group consists of countries who are in favour of the Indian membership but who, however, feel that some additional concessions may be required from India as part of a broader process of admitting non-NPT countries as NSG members.

    3) The third group consists of a lone member, China, which is ideologically opposed to the Indian membership and is using the NSG consensus rule to block India's application for membership. It is just possible that China may drop its objection to the Indian membership, if the other NSG members are also agreeable to admitting Pakistan as a member at the same time as India. However, there is broad opposition amongst the NSG members to admitting Pakistan at this time or in the near future. Therefore, Chinese opposition to the Indian membership is likely to continue in the short term.

    The best strategy for India would be to isolate China at NSG by coming to terms with the members of the second group on a common set of additional concessions that may be offered by India and accepted by the group members, thereby getting the "yes" vote of all NSG members except China. While this will not in any manner negate the principle of consensus and China would be still in a position to veto the Indian membership, China may feel that its continual sole negative vote would be politically detrimental in the long run to its global ambitions and may vote for Indian admission into NSG along with a conditional offer of Pakistan too being admitted at a later date.

    This would require India to shed its opposition to any further concessions, in addition to its 2008 offer, and craft a suitable offer to the second group of NSG members that may be acceptable to them and one which will not have any adverse impact on India's security as well. In short, some creative thinking is needed on India's part to get into NSG.

    Posted on March 14, 2018