Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG)

Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG)

 

Basics and Background

  • The Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) is a multilateral export control regime and a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
  • The NSG was founded in response to the India’s nuclear test in May 1974 and first met in November 1975.
  • The NSG first met in November 1975 in London, and is thus popularly referred to as the “London Club”.
  • The test demonstrated that certain non-weapons specific nuclear technology could be readily turned to weapons development.
  • Nations already signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear equipment, materials or technology.
  • Another benefit was that non-NPT and non-Zangger Committee nations, then specifically France, could be brought in.
  • It is not a formal organization, and its guidelines are not binding. Decisions, including on membership, are made by consensus.
  • Membership till now is to 48 supplier states.

 

Objective:

  • It aims to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, while not hindering international trade and cooperation in the nuclear field.
  • It facilitates the development of peaceful nuclear trade by providing the means whereby obligations to facilitate peaceful nuclear cooperation can be implemented in a manner consistent with international nuclear non-proliferation norms.

 

Criteria for Membership:

  • The ability to supply items (including items in transit) covered by the annexes to Parts 1 and 2 of the NSG Guidelines;
  • Adherence to the Guidelines and action in accordance with them;
  • Enforcement of a legally based domestic export control system which gives effect to the commitment to act in accordance with the Guidelines;
  • Full compliance with the obligations of one or more of nuclear non-proliferation agreement.
  • Support of international efforts towards non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of their delivery vehicle.

 

Benefits for the members:

  • Timely information on nuclear matters.
  • Contributes by way of information.
  • They will have confirmed credentials.
  • They can act as an instrument of harmonization and coordination.
  • It is a part of a very transparent process.

 

MTCR

  • Established in April 1987, the voluntary Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.
  • The regime urges its 35 members, to restrict their exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.

 

Wassenaar Arrangement

  • The Wassenaar Arrangement has been established in order to contribute to regional and international security and stability, by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilising accumulations.
  • The aim is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.

 

Australia Group

  • The Australia Group (AG) is an informal forum of countries which, through the harmonisation of export controls, seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.
  • The formation of the Australia Group (AG) in 1985 was prompted by Iraq’s use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988)
  • Coordination of National export control measures assists Australia Group members to fulfil their obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological & Toxin Weapons Convention.
  • The Australia Group has a list of 54 compounds that are identified to be regulated in global trade. This list includes more items than the Chemical Weapons Convention.

 

India’s Quest for NSG Membership

  • Since 2008, India has been trying to join the group.
  • India submitted its membership application to the NSG in May 2016, a month before the Seoul plenary of the Group. However, at the Seoul plenary group, India’s membership was blocked by China.
  • Again, in Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan)on 21st June 2019, China blocked the India’s membership and has clarified that India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was not on the agenda of the plenary of the grouping.

 

Why the membership is important for India?

  • Membership will increase India’s access to state-of-the-art technology from the other members of the Group.
  • Access to technology and being allowed to produce nuclear equipment will give a boost to the Make in India program. That will, in turn, boost the economic growth of our country.
  • As per India’s INDC under the Paris Climate agreement, India have committed to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and ensuring that 40% of its energy is sourced from renewable and clean sources. In order to achieve this target, India need to scale up nuclear power production. This can only happen if India gains access to the NSG.
  • Namibia is the fourth-largest producer of uranium and it agreed to sell the nuclear fuel to India in 2009. However, that hasn’t happened, as Namibia has signed Pelindaba Treaty, which essentially controls the supply of uranium from Africa to the rest of the world. If India joins the NSG, such reservations from Namibia are expected to melt away.
  • India will get an opportunity to voice it’s concern if in case of change in the provision of the NSG guidelines.

 

INDIA’S NUCLEAR DOCTRINE
  • No First Use
    1. India will only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack on Indian territory, or Indian forces.
    2. A caveat is made about their possible use in response to a chemical or biological attack.
  • Massive Retaliation
    1. India’s response to a first strike will be massive, to cause ‘unacceptable damage’.
    2. While the doctrine doesn’t explicitly espouse a counter-value strategy (civilian targets), the wording implies the same.
  • Credible Minimum Deterrence
    1. The number and capabilities of India’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems should merely be sufficient to ensure intolerable retaliation, also keeping in mind first-strike survival of its relatively meagre arsenal.

 

Impediments in India’s membership to NSG:

  • Since all decisions at NSG (including on membership) are taken by consensus, any country, small or big, can stand in the way of a consensus.
  • Non-signatory to NPT:India is not eligible to become a member of the NSG as it is not a member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), adherence to latter is necessary for membership in the former.
  • Norm-based entry:China has also averred that for non-NPT members some definite criteria should be evolved rather than granting country specific waivers.  No single country waiver should be granted to India as was done in 2008.
  • Linking India’s membership with Pakistan:At other times, China has stated that Pakistan also has similar credentials to join the NSG; and that if India is admitted, Pakistan should also be admitted simultaneously.
  • Will fuel nuclear arms race in South Asia:If only India were to be admitted, it would disturb the nuclear-arms balance in South Asia as India will engage in a massive nuclear weaponization programme.

 

India’s response to China’s apprehension:

  • Nine General Commitment: A new draft formula proposes “nine general commitments” that non-NPT countries “would need to make” in order to receive the “fullest” atomic trading privileges. According to analysts, India already fulfils all these nine criteria for becoming a NSG member.
  • NPT membership is not mandatory:According to the guidelines adopted in 2001 at Aspen, membership of NPT is not a pre-condition for becoming a NSG member. It is only a guiding principle to which consideration needs to be given.
  • Impeccable track record:If the NSG granted waiver to India in 2008 on the basis of its past performance, then it should have no objection in admitting India as a member because of India’s impeccable track-record in observing the provisions of the NPT and NSG, even though it has not been a member of either any of them.
  • India’s view on Pakistan’s membership to NSG:Pakistan’s credentials for NSG membership are highly flawed and inadequate. Pakistan has a blemished and flawed proliferation record as it has engaged in illicit supply of nuclear technology and materials to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
  • On nuclear arms race:Since 2008, as per its commitment, India has separated its civilian and military nuclear programmes, and put the civilian part under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
  • India’s view on criteria-based membership:India maintains that rather than evolving criteria, its performance should be the basis of its track record.

 

Way Forward:

  • India should convince China that, its interest in NSG membership is not guided by any political or strategic considerations but only to facilitate the expansion of its clean and green nuclear energy programme.
  • Besides, India should continue with a low-key building of partnership with other NSG members. Meanwhile, India should focus on developing the efficient green energy technologies to meet the massive energy requirement.
  • India has in recent times emerged as major global player in all respects and the global foras’ must recognize the importance of this.
  • China also must see it as an important confidence building step. If it does not block India’s membership it can have huge positive effects on the relationship between the two countries. India on its part must be ready for some hard and smart diplomatic efforts with China on the issue.