India irked by China stalling its nuclear group membership

AP News
Posted: Jun 26, 2016 7:14 AM
India irked by China stalling its nuclear group membership

NEW DELHI (AP) — India expressed disappointment Sunday with China for raising procedural hurdles to the South Asian country joining the 48-nation group controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology.

Its membership application was not approved at the Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting last week in Seoul, South Korea, and External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup told reporters that from India's engagements with other members he was "certain only one country was creating the procedural hurdles."

The group is focused on restricting nuclear proliferation by controlling which countries can gain access to technology used in making atomic weapons.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought China's support during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit on Thursday, and a top Foreign Ministry official who visited Beijing highlighted India's track record in efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.

China apparently links India's potential membership with archrival Pakistan, which applied later and has not yet been considered by the group.

Only countries that have ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons are normally eligible. India hasn't, but it has committed to some controls of its nuclear program under a nuclear cooperation pact with the United States. President Barack Obama came out in support of Indian membership when Modi visited Washington recently, and other nations, including Mexico and Switzerland, soon suggested they too were on board.

On Sunday, Swarup said India had taken up the issue with China at multiple levels.

"We are going to continue discussing this with China. This is going to be an important element of our discussion with China. We will continue to impress upon them that relationships move forward on the basis of mutual accommodation of each other's interests , concerns and priorities," he said.