India And Nuclear Supplier Group


  • Recently, while addressing a business gathering in the Bloomberg Global Business, New York, Indian Prime Minister made a pitch for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

About the Issue

  • While the U.S. and other countries support India’s entry into the NSG, China has been blocking India's entry into the NSG which regulates the global nuclear commerce and has been insisting that only countries which have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) be allowed only to become members.
  • After the grand bargain following the nuclear detente with the US in 2005, India has gained substantially from the NSG waiver and partial safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2008 without signing the NPT.

What is Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?

  • Established in 1975, the NSG consists of 48 states that have voluntarily agreed to coordinate their export controls to non-nuclear-weapon states. The NSG governs the transfers of civilian nuclear material and nuclear-related equipment and technology.

Aim

  • To prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons.

Background

  • India's explosion of a nuclear device in 1974 reaffirmed the fact that nuclear materials and technologies acquired under the guise of peaceful purposes could be diverted to build weapons. In response to India's action, Zangger Committee members established the NSG to further regulate nuclear-related exports.
  • The NSG first met in November 1975 in London, and is thus popularly referred to as the London Club.

Guidelines

  • The NSG Guidelines are consistent with various international, legally binding instruments in the field of nuclear nonproliferation. It consists of two parts-
  • Part I lists materials and technology designed specifically for nuclear use. These include fissile materials, nuclear reactors and equipment, and reprocessing and enrichment equipment.
  • Part II identifies dual-use goods; non-nuclear items with legitimate civilian applications that can also be used to develop weapons.

Criteria for NSG 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.
  • Full compliance with the obligations of one or more of the following: the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Treaties of Pelindaba, Rarotonga, Tlatelolco, Bangkok, or an equivalent international nuclear nonproliferation agreement.

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

  • The Treaty, which entered into force in March 1970, seeks to inhibit the spread of nuclear weapons.

Aim

  • Non-proliferation
  • Disarmament
  • Peaceful use of nuclear energy

Members: 190 countries. India, along with Israel, Pakistan, and South Sudan, have never signed the treaty.

Significance

  • It is regarded as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.
  • It is instrumental in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, to further the goals of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Zangger Committee

  • The Zangger Committee was formed in the early 1970s to establish guidelines for implementing the export control provisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
  • The list of controlled items developed by the Zangger Committee is known as the Trigger List because export of those items triggers International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Examples of these items are plutonium, highly-enriched uranium (HEU), reactors, reprocessing and enrichment plants, and equipment and components for such facilities.

Expected Benefits of NSG Membership for India

Economic Benefits

  • Boost to Make in India Initiative: Access to technology and being allowed to produce nuclear equipment will give a boost to the Make in India program. That will boost economic growth in India, create more jobs and even lead to a whole new IT-industry segment that India can leverage.
  • Indigenous Production of Nuclear Equipments: NSG membership also means India can begin to commercially produce nuclear power equipment, which it can then even sell to other countries, contributing to its economy.

Environmental Benefits

  • Help in Meeting NDC under Paris Agreement: Entry to NSG club will help India to meet its commitments, including reducing greenhouse gas emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, under its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), made at COP 21, Paris.
  • It will also help to ease India’s dependency on fossil fuels to meet its domestic energy demand, which are major source to environmental pollutions.

Technological Benefits

  • Access to Technology: Membership to the NSG will essentially increase India's access to state-of-the-art technology from the other existing members of the group.
  • Equipped with latest technology, India would be able to build more advanced versions of its fast breeder reactors and even supply them to States without nuclear programs

Political Benefits

  • Helps in Exposing Pakistan: Besides, NSG membership will give India a chance to expose Pakistan’s terrible proliferation record and it can prevent Pakistan from getting it, very similar to the manner in which China is blocking India from becoming a member.

Way Forward

  • India is moving towards clean energy including investment-intensive nuclear power for which NSG membership is crucial to building investor confidence.
  • Although the 2008 NSG waiver provided significant possibilities for India to engage in civilian nuclear trade with other countries, entry into the NSG will provide greater certainty and a legal foundation for India's nuclear regime and thus greater confidence for those countries investing billions of dollars to set up ambitious nuclear power projects in India.
  • As a member of the NSG, India can contribute to the underlying non-proliferation objectives and will also play an important role in the rule making process for nuclear commerce.

Source : Civil Services Chronicle Online, September, 2019