China’s state-run tabloid Global Times on Tuesday sought to pair India’s bid for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) with Pakistan, by absolving Islamabad of any role in the controversial AQ Khan affair.
An op-ed in the daily pointed out that the government in Islamabad was not responsible for the activities of Abdul Qadeer Khan — the country’s former chief nuclear scientist, accused of running a worldwide clandestine network of nuclear weapon technology.
“While India strives for 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. Khan was punished by the government afterward with several years of house arrest. If the NPT and the NSG can give India an exemption, it should apply to Pakistan as well,” the daily said.
A Chinese official, who did not wish to be named, said that the Global Times , though run under the official People’s Daily flagship of the Communist Party of China (CPC), does not necessarily reflect the official view in its op-eds.
The op-ed points out that inclusion of both India and Pakistan into the NSG’s fold is problematic because of the change in international rules in 1996. “It is generally reckoned that countries that conducted nuclear tests before the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996 are legitimate nuclear countries, while those that did so after the adoption of the CTBT are considered illegitimate,” the daily observed.
It added, “India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in 1998, which were condemned by the international community, and the U.S., the EU and Japan all imposed harsh sanctions on the two countries. After the September 11 attacks, the sanctions were gradually lifted.”
“If India and Pakistan are allowed to join the NPT and adopt the CTBT, it will tarnish the authority of both. How can nuclear weapon development in other countries such as North Korea, Iran and Israel be dealt with?” it noted.
The daily, however, acknowledged that India’s entry into the NSG — the 48 member grouping that controls the flow of nuclear technology and material among its members-does not harm China’s own interests. “India advocates nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament and commits itself to no-first-use of nuclear weapons as China does. It could also help enhance bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energies. Measures that can boost mutual trust could be established among China, India and Pakistan, the three nuclear powers in Asia.”