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Saying goodbye to Nuclear Suppliers Group

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January 15, 2022

What is the  issue?

It matters little even if India doesn't become a member of Nuclear Suppliers group.

What is Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?

  • The NSG first met in November 1975 in London. Thus it is popularly referred as the “London Club”.
  • It was created in response to India's first nuclear test in 1974, codenamed ‘Smiling Buddha’.
  • The NSG is a 48-member group. The European Commission and the Chair of the Zangger Committee participate as observers.
  • It seeks to regulates global nuclear commerce.
  • The NSG Guidelines were published in 1978 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • It seeks to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment, and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
  • The aim is to ensure that nuclear transfers for peaceful purposes would not be diverted to manufacture nuclear weapons.
  • Another set of guidelines was approved by the NSG in 1992 to govern the transfer of “dual-use” items.
  • A supplier should authorise a transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • Also stringent conditions exist for importing countries to resupply materials to a third country.

Who can become a member of NSG?

  • Signatories to the NPT can join the NSG.
  • NSG works on the basis of consensus, i.e any decision needs to be ratified by all member countries.

Where does the case for India's membership stand?

  • India has been pursuing member countries of NSG to become a member.
  • India's entry is being opposed by China, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey and Austria stating India
    • has not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    • refuses to open its military nuclear sites to the IAEA
    • has not rule out the possibility another nuclear test device in future.
  • Following the India-US civil nuclear deal of 2006, the US lobbied hard for an exception for India, citing the country's impeccable record.
  • Russia, France, UK, Germany, Italy, Turkey and several other countries have subsequently supported India's membership bid.
  • In 2008 the USA pressed the NSG to drop its long time ban on exporting civilian nuclear technology to India.
  • So, NSG worked out “India-specific” conditions under which India would be obliged to open only its civilian nuclear reactors to the IAEA.
  • NSG members agreed to grant India a "clean waiver" from its existing rules, in exchange for a commitment to "no nuclear trade with non-NPT countries.

Does NSG membership really matters for India?

  • NSG membership is symbolic. India wants a place at the high table, but that’s it. In practical terms, it means nothing.
  • One-time waiver was facilitated by the US
  • However not even a megawatt of nuclear capacity has been added in India by USA.
  • Inida built only two units of the Kudankulam plant with foreign help and fuel, and they have nothing to do with the one-time waiver.
  • Talks with other foreign nations happens once in a while but it quickly passes away.
  • There seems no hope for the foreign plants
  • Apart from issues such as environment and liability such plants  have simply priced themselves out of the market.
  • Only the 10 pressurised heavy water plants (700 MW each) of Nuclear Power Corporation of India have reasonable likelihood of coming up
  • An NSG membership would do nothing for India . So, while bidding goodbye to the NSG, India is also not going to miss it.


  1. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/from-the-viewsroom/saying-goodbye-to-nuclear-suppliers-group/article62240030.ece
  2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nuclear-suppliers-group-and-indias-membership-bid-key-points/articleshow/87471341.cms
  3. https://www.nuclearsuppliersgroup.org/en/about-nsg
  4. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Nuclear-Suppliers-Group
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