As the incoming chair of the 48-member group that regulates nuclear technology exports, Switzerland wants countries - like India and others - involved in the peaceful use of nuclear know-how to eventually become members.
Switzerland will be hosting the 2017 plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Groupexternal link (NSG) in its capital Bern on June 22-23. Member countries collaborate to prevent the transport of technology that could be used to make nuclear weapons and hence determine what can or cannot be exported.
This places non-members like India and Pakistan at a disadvantage when it comes to sourcing or exporting nuclear technology. These countries have not been admitted to the NSG as they have not signed the UN Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weaponsexternal link (NPT).
India considers the NPT discriminatory on the grounds that it acknowledges only those who built and tested a nuclear explosive device before 1967 as nuclear weapon states. India tested its first nuclear device in 1974, followed by another test in 1998.
This reluctance to sign the NPT – along with the need for unanimous support from all NSG members – has kept India out of the NSG so far.
‘Transparent and inclusive’
“As the incoming chair, Switzerland will handle this question [India’s NSG membership] in a transparent and inclusive manner,” Pierre-Alain Eltschinger, spokesperson for the foreign ministry told swissinfo.ch.
“In this role, Switzerland will take into account the views of all participating governments and seek to guide the Group towards reaching consensus on the question of how to integrate non-NPT states.”
Switzerland’s own position on India’s membership remains the same as when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the country last year.
“We support India’s application for participation in the NSG and acknowledge India’s support to global non-proliferation efforts,” Eltschinger said.
Switzerland will assume the chair of the NSG for 2017-18 with Ambassador Benno Laggnerexternal link as its representative.