What is NSG?
- Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a multinational body concerned with reducing nuclear proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that may be applicable to nuclear weapon development and by improving safeguards and protection on existing materials.
- The NSG aims to prevent nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. NSG members are expected to forgo nuclear trade with governments that do not subject themselves to international measures and inspections designed to provide confidence that their nuclear imports are not used to develop nuclear arms. The NSG has two sets of Guidelines listing the specific nuclear materials, equipment, and technologies that are subject to export controls.
- Presently there are 48 members in NSG.
- Signatory of NPT is considered as important criteria to become member of NSG.
What is NPT?
- Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of disarmament. The Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the IAEA, which also plays a central role under the Treaty in areas of technology transfer for peaceful purposes.
- Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970.
What is IAEA
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.
- The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957.
- Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
- The NSG group was set up in 1975 as a reaction to India’s 1974 nuclear test. It isolated India from nuclear trade with the rest of the world.
- However, in 2008 when the Indo-US Bilateral Civil Nuclear Agreement was signed, the US facilitated lifting of the NSG trade restrictions against India. It was known as NSG waiver.
What is NSG WAIVER?
- It means exempting India from the NSG’s rules governing civilian nuclear trade without it being member of NSG.
- The waiver means India now has the legal right, under the world nuclear regulatory regime, to trade for civilian nuclear fuel and technology.
Why NSG members agreed to grant waiver to India even though India is not a signatory of NPT?
- The participating countries took note of India’s nuclear-related activities and appreciated its commitments to non-proliferation over all these years including the 20 years between India’s first nuclear test in 1974 and the latter in 1998 while it had definitely possessed the nuclear arsenal.
- The NSG was satisfied and convinced that India would finalise the separation plan for its civilian nuclear facilities that shall be open to the IAEA safeguards and would accept the Additional Protocol.
- The NSG was further appreciative of India’s gesture of voluntary moratorium on further nuclear testing and assurances for harmonisation of its export regulations with the NSG guidelines.
- India’s pledge of “no-first-use” (NFU) of its nuclear weapons was unique since no other country except China had ever announced or even intended such a policy.
What did the NSG waiver mean for India?
- The NSG waiver had thus opened opportunities for India to acquire nuclear technology and materials from other countries mostly on bilateral partnership for use in its civilian activities under full-scale IAEA safeguards. It will also encourage transfer of nuclear technologies from India to other third world countries.
- The waiver is significant because India can now engage in high-tech nuclear commerce while its nuclear weapons programme remains unaffected, a right enjoyed only by the P-5. India can now have access to nuclear technology without signing the NPT or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
- Till then only states (other than the five recognized nuclear weapons states) that placed all their nuclear facilities under IAEA inspection and were signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have been allowed, under NSG rules, to import civilian nuclear fuel and technology.
- The waiver also means that India can enter into civil-nuclear agreements with Russia and France and will also enable India to gain access to nuclear fuel from the international market.
- Most importantly, the waiver confers a de facto nuclear weapons power status to India.
Will India able to access all nuclear technology once it became member of NSG
- There are many technologies that it still cannot access due to MTCR and two other denial regimes, the Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group. Thus India wants to be a member of all these groups.
- The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was established in April 1987 by the G7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States.
- The MTCR was created in order to curb the spread of unmanned delivery systems for nuclear weapons, specifically delivery systems that could carry a minimum payload of 500 kg a minimum of 300 km.
- India has officially applied for membership of MTCR. United States, France and some other nations have publicly announced their support for India’s membership in the MTCR. However, at the summit in Rotterdam in October 2015, India was denied access to the MTCR, with Italy rumoured to be the dissenting party, probably as a consequence of the Italian Marine Case.
- It’s full name is “The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies”
- The Wassenaar Arrangement was established 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 destabilizing accumulations.
- Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.
- The Australia Group is an informal group of countries established in 1985 (after the use of chemical weapons by Iraq in 1984) to help member countries to identify those exports which need to be controlled so as not to contribute to the spread of chemical and biological weapons.
- Now India wants to be the member of NSG and India’s pending application for entry into NSG will come up for consideration in June 2016.
- But according to the rule of NSG, decision of inducting new member would be taken through consensus only i.e. every member should agree. It means even one member can thwart the entry of any country into the group.
- China is opposed to India’s membership in NSG citing that India has not signed NPT.
- Apart from this China has also encouraged Pakistan to apply for NSG membership so as to link India’s entry with that of Pakistan.
- Pakistan fears that if India became member of NSG than it will not be able to become its member because as decision to induct new member is taken on consensus; India will never support membership for Pakistan. It is one of the reason Pakistan is opposing India’s membership.