US Senator says granting India membership of NSG a ‘dangerous policy’

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WASHINGTON, May 26 (APP): The US efforts to support
India’s membership of the Nuclear Supply Group is a
‘dangerous Policy’ that will lead to a nuclear arms race in
South Asia, a US Senator warned at a hearing on US India relations.

Senator Edward J Markey made these observations at the hearing this week where US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs, Nisha Desai Biswal, gave presentation on the US India relations and defended actions by the Obama administration in supporting India’s quest for membership of the NSG.

Senator Markey warned that this would create an
action reaction chain leading to a never ending escalation that would ultimately bring the battle field nuclear weapons closer to the border of both Pakistan and India.

The Senator recalled after the US gave exemptions to India in 2008, New Delhi has continued to process fissile material for its nuclear weapons program virtually unchecked. He said at that time Pakistan had warned that this deal would increase the chances of nuclear arms race in the region.

“Sure enough, since that time, Pakistan has declared its
intention to give control over battlefield nuclear weapons to frontline military commanders and it has declared its intention to use nuclear weapons earlier in a conflict with India,” he observed.

He questioned the Assistant Secretary if
giving state specific exemptions to India with regard to its request for NSG membership would not complicate efforts to refrain Pakistan from undertaking ‘destabilizing’ actions, such as deploying battle field nuclear weapons.

Senator Markey did not agree with the response of
the Assistant Secretary that the Obama administration had separate dialogue with both India and Pakistan to express its concern while supporting New Delhi’s membership. “We are creating an action reaction” chain.

“It’s a dangerous policy, It’s an unnecessary policy,”
he said and added that making such exemptions would infuriate Pakistan and would lead this to increase their own nuclear capacity. “It’s a very dangerous long term trend.”
Earlier, in his opening statement, Senator Markey observed that if given the membership, India would be the only country which not a party to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). He said that despite lack of consensus in the NSG on India’s membership, the Obama administration had decided to forcefully press for vote on the issue in coming months.

The Senator stated that the purpose of the NSG has been
to encourage states to accept full scale IAEA safeguards and prevent the spread of sensitive technology that could be used to build nuclear weapons.

He regretted that instead of strengthening these objectives,
the United States has repeatedly carved out exemptions for India.

The Senator said that NSG has agreed to set a set of factors to be taken into consideration for accepting new member that included signing NPT or any such agreement and accepting full scale IAEA safeguards. He questioned if the US was proposing to set aside these factors or asking for their revision.

He did not agree with the Assistant Secretary that India
was in compliance with these requirements.
The Senator added that in addition to signing NPT and accepting IAEA safeguards, there was also need for extra commitments, such as signing CTBT and halting processing fissile material before pursuing membership of NSG.