India's NSG membership put on hold till Seoul meet

India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is expected to be deliberated upon by the atomic trading club at its plenary later this month in Seoul, as a meeting in Vienna on New Delhi's application remained inconclusive.

According to PTI, sources in Vienna said the chair of the NSG has taken note of views expressed by member countries and will list the matter for further discussion at NSG plenary scheduled to be held in Seoul on 24 June.

Though the US was strongly pushing India's case and most member countries supported it, China remained a firm opponent, arguing that the NSG should not relax specific criteria for new applicants.

The NSG controls access to sensitive nuclear technology. A number of countries, which were initially opposed to India's bid on the ground that it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), eased their positions and were ready to work out a compromise. However, China stuck to its position.

In the meeting, China did not openly oppose India's membership but linked it to signing of NPT.

The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country's vote against India will scuttle India's bid.

Besides China, the member countries in the 48-nation group which were opposed to India's membership were New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria.

It is understood India was hopeful of getting support from China as it had supported India's case in 2008 when India got a waiver from the NSG to allow the India-US nuclear trade deal.

India has asserted that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG as there has been a precedent in this regard, citing the case of France.

Mexico on Thursday backed India's NSG bid during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi there. The Mexican support followed that of the US and Switzerland. Japan too has expressed its support for India's inclusion in the grouping.

The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership of the grouping will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector.

The US has been pushing for India's membership.

Ahead of the Vienna meeting, US Secretary of State John Kerry had written a letter to the NSG member countries which are not supportive of India's bid, saying they should ''agree not to block consensus on Indian admission''.

A joint statement issued after talks between Modi and Obama said the US called on NSG participating governments to support India's application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month.