Beijing: China on Tuesday called for detailed discussions on whether “India and other countries” who have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) can join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), amid new diplomatic push by influential members of the 48-member grouping to admit New Delhi.
Clarifying Beijing's stand, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said, ''The Chinese side understood India's need to develop nuclear energy. However, the Chinese side considers NPT as cornerstone of international non-proliferation regime and, therefore, we call on further and thorough discussions within the group in order to make decisions based on consultation.''
While acknowledging India's aspiration to be part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Chunying said, ''The group however remains divided on the accession of non-NPT countries in NSG.''
Chunying, while maintaining that the NSG meetings have never put accession of any specific non-NPT countries on their agenda, also clarified that the upcoming NSG Plenary Meeting in Seoul will not cover this issue either.
China's stance does not target any particular country, but applies to all non-NPT countries, she further stated.
Replying to a question about China's assurance to Pakistan over its inclusion in the NSG club if if India is admitted, Chunying had earlier said that whether or not Non-NPT countries be admitted should be subjected to “through discussion” among the NSG members.
“China’s principle is that the NSG is an important part of the non-proliferation regime. This regime is built upon the NPT” following a long time consensus by the international community, she said. China is part of 48-member NSG group.
India’s case is being pressed by the US and other influential countries based on its record in non-proliferation and the India-US civil nuclear accord.
However, China’s call for talks among NSG members about “India and other Non-NPT” members indicate that Beijing may push for the case of Pakistan, which in the past has been accused of passing of nuclear technology to Iran and other countries.
Besides seeking US and others countries’ support, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged China to back India’s case for admission in the NSG during his visit here in May.
The reaction from the Foreign Ministry spokesperson came at a time when the Chinese media defended Pakistan's nuclear record, saying it was AQ Khan who was responsible for atomic proliferation which was not backed by the government, and argued that any exemption to India for NSG entry should also be given to Islamabad.
"While India strives for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) inclusion, it prevents Pakistan from joining by insisting on the latter's bad record of nuclear proliferation. Actually, the proliferation carried out by Pakistan was done by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's chief nuclear scientist, and was not an official policy of the Pakistani government," an article in the state-run Global Times said.
"Khan was punished by the government afterwards with several years of house arrest. If the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the NSG can give India an exemption, it should apply to Pakistan as well," it said.
This is probably the first time Chinese official media has directly made a case for Pakistan's inclusion in the NSG. China officially maintains that there should be consensus about admitting all members.