RPI Author Deepa Ollapally: Misguided Resistance to India’s Possible Entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group
The argument that inducting India into the NSG as a member would seriously damage the NPT regime is rather disingenuous. The global nonproliferation regime has been most battered by signatory countries like North Korea and Iran that have been trying to do an end-run around the NPT, and by the 1995 NPT Review process itself that extended the NPT indefinitely without sufficiently strong conditions to ensure credible leverage over the P-5’s own disarmament agenda. The regime is languishing in a weakened state without any quick or easy solution. There is no chance that India will sign the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state and gain NSG membership. Given that India is now in a “half-way house” in a clearly imperfect NPT regime, the question that should be debated is whether it does more damage to the goals of nonproliferation to have India inside or outside the NSG. The answer to that question is not difficult.
Nearly all independent observers agree that India holds an exceptionally good record on nuclear trade and follows global norms even without NSG membership. But having India in the NSG will increase transparency of India’s actions and presumably aid international coordination—outcomes no one can argue with. On the other hand, Pakistan has not been able to shake off the fallout from highly incriminating allegations in 2002 about its trade of sensitive nuclear information with North Korea in exchange for ballistic missiles. It is practically impossible to find any credible analyst willing to confidently vouch for Pakistan’s clean record on nonproliferation—in the past or future. That China, a country linked to controversial nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, is raising obstacles to considering Indian membership in the NSG is telling. Indeed, one can only conclude that China is much more motivated by political competition with India and supporting India’s rival Pakistan, than by any real concern for nonproliferation protocols.
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