New Delhi/Vienna: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's diplomatic efforts to gain entry to the exclusive Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) appeared to be gaining traction when he bagged crucial support from US, Switzerland and Mexico, reports said on Thursday that China was leading the opposition to India's membership to the 48-nation club.
Turkey, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa and Austria are said to be backing the Chinese stand.
The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership of the grouping will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector.
India has been reaching out to NSG member countries seeking support to its membership. The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country's vote against India will scuttle its bid.
China opposes India's entry
China has been opposing India's entry into the elite grouping, that controls access to sensitive nuclear technology, consistently maintaining that only signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should be admitted to NSG.
China wants NSG membership for Pakistan if NSG extends any exemption for India.
The NSG began a two-day meeting today in the Austrian capital to consider India's application which is strongly supported by the US.
US, Switzerland back India
In a letter, US Secretary of State John Kerry has made an appeal to NSG member states which are not supportive of India's membership bid, saying they should "agree not to block consensus on Indian admission" to the group when it again meets in Seoul later this month.
"India has shown strong support for the objectives of the NSG and the global nuclear nonproliferation regime and is a 'like-minded' state deserving of NSG admission," Kerry wrote, according to Bloomberg.
A joint statement issued after talks between PM Modi and US President Barack Obama had said that the US called on NSG participating governments to support India's application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month.
PM Modi on Monday had visited Switzerland, another member of the NSG which is known to have strong proliferation concerns, and it had announced support to India's candidature.
Mexico backs India's NSG membership
India today also secured Mexico's backing. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced his country's support to India's membership for the NSG after holding wide-ranging talks with PM Modi with a major focus on further deepening cooperation in a range of areas including trade and investment, information technology, energy and space.
"Mexico recognises India's bid to be part of the NSG. As a country, we are going to be positively and constructively supporting India's request in recognition of the commitment by Prime Minister Modi to the international agenda of disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons," Nieto said at a joint media interaction with PM, as per PTI.
On his part, the PM Modi thanked the Mexican President for his country's support and called Mexico an important partner for India's energy security.
He said both the countries have agreed to work and develop a "roadmap of concrete outcomes" to upgrade ties to a strategic partnership.
He added, "We both feel that our growing convergence on international issues allows us to join our capacities to strengthen international regimes of strategic importance."
Pakistan formally asks US to back its NSG bid
Meanwhile, Pakistan has now stepped forward and formally asked the United States administration and Congress to support its application for joining the NSG.
According to Dawn, Pakistan submitted a formal application in Vienna last month, expressing its desire to join the group but the US did not yield to Islamabad's demands.
In a letter to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Pakistan's Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani reminded Congress that Pakistan had taken a series of steps that qualify it for joining the NSG.
"Pakistan's desire to participate in the NSG stands on solid grounds of technical experience, capability and well-established commitment to nuclear safety. Pakistan has operated secure and safeguarded nuclear power plants for over 42 years. Safe and sustainable civil nuclear energy is essential for Pakistan's future energy security and its economic development," he said, as per ANI.
The letter emphasized on Pakistan's willingness to accept the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all foreign supplied nuclear reactors and nuclear materials similar to the current IAEA safeguards in place on all of Pakistan's civilian nuclear facilities.
"Pakistan has consistently maintained that criteria-based, non-discriminatory approach, which treats both Pakistan and India equally, while also simultaneously binding them to appropriate non-proliferation commitments, will not only strengthen the non-proliferation regime but also promote strategic stability in South Asia," the letter read.
The letter also warned that publicly available reports on "significant upcoming fissile material facilities and build up of unsafeguarded weapon-usable fissile material in Pakistan's neighbourhood raise larger security and stability concerns for the region."
(With Agency inputs)