New Zealand to play ‘constructive’ role in India’s NSG entry process

October 26, 2016 04:28 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 06:25 am IST - New Delhi

Prime MInister Narendra Modi and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key during a meeting and delegation-level talks at the Hyderabad house in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: R. V. Moorthy

Prime MInister Narendra Modi and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key during a meeting and delegation-level talks at the Hyderabad house in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: R. V. Moorthy

India failed to get an outright statement of support for its bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key after talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but officials said they were “encouraged” by the discussions they held ahead of the next NSG meeting on the issue on November 9-10.

“We held detailed discussions on India becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in a process that New Zealand will continue to contribute to constructively. We will work with NSG members on this issue and reach a decision as soon as possible,” Mr. Key said, indicating that New Zealand is yet to change its hard-line position on only admitting signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty into the NSG, a group which works by consensus.

Government sources said that they were not disappointed by the outcome of the visit, however. “New Zealand showed an understanding of India’s clean energy needs and the importance of predictability in global rules on nuclear commerce in enabling the expansion of nuclear energy in India,” an official said, indicating that India’s NSG membership application will hinge on its need to keep climate change commitments.

NSG panel to discuss entry of non-NPT states

Mr. Key and Mr. Modi also reached an understanding on further cooperation on cyber security, counter-terrorism, customs, education and food safety as well as more regular bilateral meetings. Mr. Key repeated New Zealand’s “consistent support for India to become a member of the reformed United Nations Security Council.”

The visit comes in the run-up to a crucial NSG Consultative Group (CG) meeting to be held in Vienna specifically to consider whether countries that haven’t signed on to the NPT (like India and Pakistan) can be considered for membership. Sources have confirmed to The Hindu that the meeting will be held on November 9 and 10.

India’s membership bid failed to make headway in June this year in Seoul, but the new South Korean Chairperson of the Group had mandated outgoing Argentine Chairperson Rafael Grossi to speak to all NSG members to discuss the way forward so that India’s case could be taken up “later this year.”

Mr. Grossi is expected to address the CG on what his efforts in conjunction with India to build a consensus have yielded so far. “We are working hard but are not there yet,” a Vienna based diplomat told The Hindu.

Also crucial will be a meeting between Chinese nuclear point person Wang Qun and MEA’s nuclear negotiator Amandeep Singh Gill, in early November ahead of the Vienna meet for their second such meeting, which was announced by President Xi Jinping during his visit for the BRICS summit earlier this month.

China has made it clear that it would oppose any India-specific membership process, calling instead for a 2-step procedure that would first set the criteria for non-NPT members that include Pakistan.

New Zealand is part of a group called the New Agenda for Coalition which promotes the NPT and pushes for nuclear disarmament worldwide. In the past year, Mr. Modi has met leaders of all other members of the group including Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa (Egypt is not a member of the NSG, however) in an effort to soften their opposition to non-NPT members.

Of them, only Mexico has issued an open endorsement of India’s candidature so far. Even so, senior government officials in the United States, that is currently Chairing the Consultative Group of the NSG, say they are hopeful of pushing through India’s membership of the group by the end of the year.

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