Nuclear Suppliers Group And India’s Membership Issue

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) 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.

NSG Logo


The NSG was founded in response to the Indian nuclear test in May 1974 and first met in November 1975. The test demonstrated that certain non-weapons specific nuclear technology could be readily turned to weapons development. Nations already signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear equipment, materials or technology. Another benefit was that non-NPT and non-Zangger Committee nations, then specifically France, could be brought in.


A list of items were created in a series of meetings in London. Listed items could only be exported to non-nuclear states if certain International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards were agreed to or if exceptional circumstances relating to safety existed. At a  meeting in 1978, held at the Hague in March 1991, the twenty-six participating governments agreed to the changes, which were published as the “Dual-use List” in 1992, and also to the extension of the original list to more closely match the up-to-date Zangger list.


Initially the NSG had seven participating governments: Canada, West Germany, France, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1976-77, participation was expanded to fifteen with the admittance of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland. Germany was reunited in 1990 while Czechoslovakia broke up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. Twelve more nations joined up to 1990. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union a number of former republics were given observer status as a stage towards future membership. China became a participating government in 2004.

NSG Members

The European Commission and the Zangger Committee Chair participate as observers. The NSG Chair for 2018-2019 is Latvia. As of 2018, the NSG has 48 participating governments.


During a state visit to India in November 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama announced U.S. support for India’s participation in the Nuclear Suppliers Group “in a phased manner,” and to encourage the evolution of regime participation criteria to that end, “consistent with maintaining the core principles of these regimes.”

During a visit to India in December 2010, French President Sarkozy also expressed his country’s backing for India’s inclusion in Nuclear Suppliers Group. The United Kingdom has for a long time been a supporter of India’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Russian president Vladmir Putin has also offered unconditional support to India’s entry into NSG.

Switzerland also announced its backing on India’s Membership in 48 member group on 6 June 2016 during PM Modi’s visit to Geneva. Japan has expressed support for India’s bid for membership of the NSG.

In June 2016, India got crucial support from Mexico in its bid to become a member of the NSG ahead of a plenary meeting of the 48-nation bloc whose members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. On 20 June, Canada stated that NSG will be strengthened with India’s presence. On 22 June France reiterated its support to India, and urged all the other 48 members of the NSG to allow entry for India into the atomic control body.

In July 2016, South Africa agreed to back India’s entry into the NSG. In August 2016, Turkey confirmed support for India’s NSG membership bid. On 4 September 2016, Australia reiterated its commitment to India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group just ahead of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China. On 5 September 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Argentina for backing India’s bid.

On 17 October 2016, following the BRICS Summit in Benaulim, Goa, Brazil officially backed India’s bid for NSG membership. On 26 October 2016, Prime Minister Key of New Zealand stated that “New Zealand would continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership.” Poland and Cyprus backed India’s NSG bid in April 2017. Germany reaffirmed India’s NSG membership bid in May 2017. On 16 April 2018 Germany supported India’s bid for NSG membership saying that India’s inclusion into the NSG will boost the global export control system.



However China is opposing India’s membership to NSG. Other countries opposing Indian membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) include Ireland and Austria.

Pakistan which is also not a member of the NSG has raised its bid for membership. China has tied the Indian bid to the Pakistani bid, blocking the former’s entry repeatedly based on the argument that “If India can be let in without signing NPT, then Pakistan should be granted membership as well.”

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