After a nail-biting two-day plenary session in Seoul, the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) turned down India’s membership bid despite an unprecedented diplomatic push by the government, with deliberations moving to a new dimension – the issue of including countries that are not party to non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

The main reason why India was unable to make it to the NSG’s high table was because it is not a signatory to the NPT. Although it was China that mainly stressed on this point, other countries such as Austria, New Zealand, Ireland and Turkey also joined the chorus, sources told BusinessLine .

In a statement issued by the NSG, the grouping said discussions on the issue of “Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of the Participation of non-NPT States in the NSG” were held.

The issue was discussed by the 48-nation nuclear bloc till late Thursday evening when a special session of the NSG was convened, which went on for three hours, to discuss the ‘participation’ of non-NPT members into the grouping. However, by Friday afternoon, as the day came to a close in Seoul, it was clear that India’s membership bid had failed, sources said.

Brazil had reservations over whether membership to countries can be granted on a non-discriminatory basis.

Swiss volte face But, it was Switzerland that sprung a surprise. Although the Swiss government had assured India of its support when their President met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it raised questi-ons against India’s participation.

“China doesn’t support Pakistan or India to enter NSG until they follow rules established by members. NSG consensus is in favour of the Non Proliferation Treaty, hope India will join NPT first. The meeting on Thursday was an effort to find consensus on non-NPT state applications, but differences remain,” said Wang Qun, Director General (Arms Control Department), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China and their interlocutor in Seoul.

“…Our stand on the NPT is well known. There is thus no contradiction between the NPT and India's closer engagement with the NSG,” said Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs.

In 2008, India had obtained a waiver from the NSG to have civil nuclear cooperation with countries bilaterally, despite not being a signatory of the NPT and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The waiver immunes India’s nuclear facilities from NSG’s control and its ability to conduct commerce on nuclear energy.

Fight against climate change The government also highlighted that an “early decision” on India’s NSG application “remains in larger global interest” of energy security and combating climate change. In fact, the MEA stressed on the fact that its application has gained momentum in view of the India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in the climate change agreement that was signed in Paris.

“An early positive decision by the NSG would have allowed us to move forward on the Paris Agreement. India’s NSG membership would advance energy security and make a difference to combating climate change. We are confident that the NSG will recognise these benefits as it deliberates further on this issue,” Swarup added.