India must sign NPT to gain entry into NSG, patient negotiations required: China

China has been blocking India's NSG membership bid despite backing from a majority of its members. Photograph:( PTI )

PTI Beijing, China Jan 31, 2019, 05.33 PM (IST)

India must sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) to gain entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, China said Thursday, asserting that "patient negotiations" were required for New Delhi's admission into the group as there is no precedent for the inclusion of non-NPT countries.

China has been opposing India's entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the ground that India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though the other P5 members, including the US and Russia backed its case based on New Delhi's non-proliferation record.

China, France, Russia, Britain and the US - the permanent members of the UNSC also known as P5 countries - have concluded their two meetings here to discuss issues related to nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Briefing the media on the outcome of the conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at the end of the successful conference the member countries reached an important consensus to jointly uphold the responsibilities for international peace and security.

"We will uphold the NPT mechanism. We underscore its importance as the cornerstone of international non-proliferation system and also an important component of international security."

"We promise to enforce the NPT fully and comprehensively and gradually realise our goal of a nuclear weapon free world and do our best to solve the nuclear non-proliferation issues through political and diplomatic means for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and international cooperation," he said.

Asked whether the issues related to India's application to enter into the NSG figured in the meeting, Geng said "the P5 countries are committed to uphold the NPT mechanism, recognise that it is the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation system".

"For the full and comprehensive implementation of the NPT we will do our best to resolve the non-proliferation issues through the diplomatic means for the peaceful use of the nuclear energy," he said.

To another question on whether China which has been calling for a two-step formula to admit new members into the NSG has been changed, he said, "we call on the all the countries to join the treaty as non-nuclear weapons states as soon as possible is our position".

"But what you said (India's application to join the NSG) there hasn't been any precedent. What we suggested (was) patient negotiations with the mechanism members to solve this problem through consultations," he said.

After India applied for the NSG membership, Pakistan too applied for the same following which China, a close ally of Islamabad, called for a two-step approach which states that NSG members first need to arrive at a set of principles for the admission of non-NPT states into the group and then move forward discussions of specific cases. 

The NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports.

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The NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through the implementation of guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports.