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China scuttles India's NSG bid in Seoul

By The Assam Tribune

SEOUL, June 24 (IANS): China scuttled India's NSG aspirations as the annual plenary of the 48-nation bloc ended in the South Korean capital on Friday without any decision on New Delhi's membership application.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup without naming Beijing said "procedural hurdles persistently raised by one country" stalled India's bid even as most others in the grouping supported New Delhi.

"An overwhelming number of those who took the floor supported India's membership and appraised India's application positively. It is also our understanding that the broad sentiment was to take this matter forward," Swarup said.

But a public statement after the NSG's 26th plenary in Seoul didn't mention about India or any other country, including Pakistan, which had applied for membership - indicating that the grouping could not arrive at a consensus on allowing membership to the countries that have not signed the crucial Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The statement said the meeting discussed the "issue of 'technical, legal and political aspects of the participation of non-NPT states in the NSG' and decided to continue its discussion" of not allowing them in.

"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 (NSG)."

India, strongly backed by the US, applied for NSG membership on May 12 this year. Pakistan immediately followed with its own application a week later after China backed it.

Signing the NPT is one of the main requirements to be part of the elite club of nations that regulate global nuclear trade and technology. However, both India and Pakistan are non-signatories to the NPT.

India was seeking concessions from the grouping on the grounds of its clean non-proliferation record. But China virtually stonewalled India's chances by seeking the same concession for Pakistan, that has an alleged bad track record on non-proliferation as it is said to have sold atomic weapons technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

"It has been suggested that India's participation in the NSG requires it to join the NPT," Swarup said, adding "our stand on the NPT is well known".

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