Washington: Ahead of the crucial Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meet on June 9 and 10 in Vienna to discuss new applicants, the United States today strongly backed India’s bid to join the elite grouping saying the south Asian country will be in a stronger position to be a "good citizen" on proliferation-related issues.
"Having gone down the path of the civil nuclear agreement with India, and having invested a significant amount of time in building up our cooperation with India as it relates to nuclear security," Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes told a Washington audience.
Rhodes remarks on India came in response to a question about why some countries like China are opposing India's membership in the 48-member NSG.
"..I think the bottom line for us is that we believe that through engagement with India and through engagement with groups like the NSG, we are in a better position to support India as a good citizen on these issues," Rhodes said.
China has raised objections to giving the membership access to India. In fact, it has backed Pakistan’s entry. Islamabad had applied for the NSG membership just a week after India did. The Government of India gas tried bring China onboard on the issue. The recent visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to China was to inform it about India’s application.
Apart from China, Switzerland and Mexico had also raised concerns on India’s membership. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his just concluded visit to Switzeland, managed to secure the Central European country’s support. The Prime Minister, who is in US, will later this week travel to Mexico and it is believed that Mexico will also agree to back India’s bid.
Rhodes further said that the US believed that engaging India and trying to bring it into international processes will be more effective in promoting the country's security protocols.
"And frankly, it takes place against continued conversations that we have with India about their approach to nuclear weapons; and of course, the support that we've always expressed for diplomatic efforts between India and Pakistan," Rhodes said in response to a question at an event organised by the Arms Control Association.
Based in Washington, Arms Control Association is a think-tank that had opposed India-US civil nuclear deal and is now opposing India's membership to the NSG.
"So, I think the bottom line for us is that we believe that through engagement with India and through engagement with groups like the NSG, we are in a better position to support India as a good citizen on these issues going forward," Rhodes said.
"Of course, we'll take seriously the concerns of other nations, but again for us I think this is part of a broader context where we've decided to take this approach with India. And we've seen it bear some fruit, particularly on issues related to nuclear security," he said.
"So again, we understand the concerns, but in many ways we're dealing with a challenge that was fairly far advanced by the time we took office. And we decided to sustain the previous administration's decision to pursue that civil nuclear cooperation broadly," he said.
"Then what we've tried to do is nest it in these international bodies and protocols so that, again, India is in a stronger position to be a good citizen on proliferation-related issues," Rhodes said.
With PTI Inputs