(Last Updated On: June 27, 2016)

NEW DELHI: Despite China’s claims that its opposition to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was supported by several countries, these objections were more procedural in nature and would have swiftly melted away if Beijing had not ensured a lack of consensus on the Indian application.

Most nations that are said to have joined ranks with China issued a statement outlining their position at the NSG plenary at Seoul that seemed intended to be “for record” as staying silent when China was vocal might have raised questions at home.

┬áThe difficult terrain at Seoul is set to change soon as Switzerland takes the chair from Korea, which did find it easy to resist China’s ruthless use of its proxy North Korea to pressure its conduct of the proceedings. Though Switzerland also reportedly had a few issues to raise at Seoul, the expectation is that the change of baton should help the Indian cause. Switzerland’s support to India is seen as genuine and can help counter China’s implacable resistance to India assuming a seat at the NSG.

With reports emerging that the process of evaluating India’s application is not dead, China could find it increasingly difficult to sustain its argument that all non-NPT nations, including Pakistan, should be held at par.Semantics over “adherence to NPT” rather than “implementation” will be challenged in the face of the obviously unequal “applicants”. India has also indicated that it is willing to elaborate its various commitments that respect the principles of non-proliferation espoused by the NPT and NSG.
China remains the stumbling block and its ability to block India will influence others who would otherwise may not press their reservations if India were to offer sufficient assurance. Though its commitments to Pakistan cannot be underestimated, China’s success in cloaking its opposition to India as an issue dealing with all non-NPT nations is likely to be increasingly challenged by Delhi and perhaps NSG members too.

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