• The Nuclear Suppliers Group is a multilateral export control regime and a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment, and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
  • The NSG was formed in the wake of the nuclear tests conducted by India in May 1974 which proved that certain non-weapons nuclear technology could be used to develop nuclear weapons.
  • The group had its first meeting in November 1975. A series of meetings held in London produced agreements on export guidelines (Thus it is popularly referred to as the “London Club”).
  • Although initially there were only 7 countries as members, there are 48 participating governments as of 2022. India is not one of them. China became a participating government in 2004. The European Commission and the Zangger Committee Chair participate as observers.
  • The NSG guidelines require that importing states provide assurances to NSG members that proposed deals will not contribute to the creation of nuclear weapons.
  • Certain eligibility needs to be fulfilled for a country to become a member of the NSG. 
    • A set of guidelines have been specified by NSG which need to be fulfilled by every NSG country in order to be a part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. These guidelines have been divided into Part 1 and Part 2 guidelines. The first part of the guidelines comprises governing the export of items that are especially designed or prepared for nuclear use. These items are known as Trigger List Items as the transfer of an item triggers safeguards.
    • The second part of NSG guidelines is dedicated to the export of nuclear-related dual-use items and technologies, that is, items that can make a major contribution to an uncovered nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activity. These items would, however, continue to be available for peaceful nuclear activities that are subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, as well as for other industrial activities where they would not contribute to nuclear proliferation. 
  • 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.
  • Functions of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG): 
    • Controlling the export of nuclear material, equipment, and technology.
    • Transfer of nuclear-related dual-use materials, software, and related technology. 
    • Each member country must be informed about the supply, import, or export of any nuclear-based product.
    • NPT will not be the only body responsible for governing the export of nuclear products. It will be divided between NPT and NSG.

NSG and India

  • India is not a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. 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(NPT).
    • refuses to open its military nuclear sites to the IAEA.
    • and has not ruled out the possibility of another nuclear test device in the 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.
  • Since 2008, India has been trying to be a member country of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and there are various reasons for India to constantly push the US for accepting their offer to join.
  • Given below are the reasons how joining NSG will be beneficial for India:
    1. It will provide the country with access to foreign-sourced nuclear material and equipment, reducing the risk faced by foreign nuclear industries in doing business with India.
    2. Increasing the business of these nuclear materials will enable India to make better versions of nuclear breeders and export them to smaller countries, thereby increasing the economic growth of the country.
    3. The Make In India program will also see a boost if India becomes a member of NSG because nuclear power production would increase. 
    4. Membership will increase India’s access to state-of-the-art technology from the other members of the Group.
    5. It will also gain India an opportunity to initiate talks about the plutonium trade for its thorium program and gain massive domestic profits. 
    6. India aims to minimize the use of fossil fuels by 50 percent and use more natural and renewable resources of energy. This is possible if India gets access to nuclear raw materials and increases nuclear power generation.  
    7. Namibia is the fourth-largest producer of uranium and it agreed to sell the nuclear fuel to India in 2009. However, that hasn’t happened, as Namibia has signed the Pelindaba Treaty, which essentially controls the supply of uranium from Africa to the rest of the world. If India joins the NSG, such reservations from Namibia are expected to melt away.
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