India’s hopes for an entry into the elite NSG was shattered by a known opponent and a backstabbing.
Despite the intense engagements and discussions at the diplomatic level initiated by India with the countries that mattered, China’s ‘concerns’ were enough for the tower to crumble.
While Beijing’s move was unsurprising, it was Switzerland which gave a shock to New Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had himself added the Alpine nation to his itinerary on his US tour to ensure that the NSG matter s discussed at the highest level.
He had secured the assurance of Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, who had said that Switzerland will certainly back New Delhi.
Yet at the plenary at Seoul, the Swiss reneged on their promise with a wily move: they cited India’s non-NPT status.
Mexico kept its promise to PM Modi made at the time of his visit during the five-nation trip (that included Switzerland).
In fact it is this nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which India is not a signatory, that was used effectively against New Delhi by China and those who stood with Beijing at Seoul.
Because NSG entry is based on consensus and not majority, China was able to muscle through its demand of not even discussing India’s entry citing “procedure”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried a last ditch effort for India’s bid with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Tashkent, yet the Chinese remained adamant.
Beijing received the strongest support from Turkey – a country where freedom of expression is under threat under President Recep Tayyep Erdogan’s rule.
Others who stood with Beijing using the same “procedure” card, according to various reports, were South Africa, Norway, Austria, Ireland, New Zealand and Brazil.
Ireland, Austria and New Zealand’s position was clear from the start but they could have swayed if China had not put its foot down.
At least 38 countries were strongly in favour of India’s entry to the club. Among those were the US, the UK and their allies and some of India’s own traditional allies like Japan and Russia.
“We understand that despite procedural hurdles persistently raised by one country, a three-hour-long discussion took place last night,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a statement.
Russian President Vladimir Putin kept his promise of backing India in spite of his own reservations over a growing Delhi-Washington bonding.
On June 24 – the last day of the plenary – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praised India’s “impeccable record regarding the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” and called for the country’s admission to the NSG.
India’s entry to NSG became a complex matter after Pakistan, a non-NPT country, sought admission to the group.
In a very well-planned strategic manoeuvre, Beijing prodded Islamabad to apply for the NSG just a week after India’s May 12 application.
Ever since, China has been using the Pakistan card demanding that there should be a procedure for all non-NPT countries.
But India’s supporters UK, Germany, France, Australia and US managed to ensure a key change in the plenary statement.
The participating governments “reiterated their firm support for the full, complete and effective implementation of the NPT as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime”.
According to TOI, the word “implementation” means that India still has a chance to enter the club at its next discussion because India has been implementing all NPT rules without being a part of it.
India holds a crucial card too – the Paris Agreement on climate change. New Delhi has now decided that it will not ratify the Paris Agreement anytime soon.
“An early positive decision by the NSG would have allowed us to move forward on the Paris Agreement. India’s NSG membership would advance energy security and make a difference to combating climate change. We are confident that the NSG will recognise these benefits as it deliberates further on this issue,” Swarup said.
India’s bid for NSG is not over yet. New Delhi will only have to wait till the next plenary.