India's high energy , high profile campaign to get into the NSG ran aground Friday morning, as China remained adamantly opposed to even considering the issue. After a plenary meeting in Seoul, which saw Chinese diplomats attempt to block even a discussion, the 48 member nuclear cartel could not take a decision on India's membership.
A last minute diplomatic outreach by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese president Xi Jinping after the two leaders met in Tashkent also failed to cut any ice.
A big outcome of the NSG failure is India may not ratify the Paris Agreement, a key element of US president Brack Obama's legacy , anytime soon.The Indian statement on the NSG plenary says, “ An early positive decision by the NSG wo uld have allowed us to move forward on the Paris Agreement.“
This will be a big blow to the Obama administration that wanted India to ratify the pact to help it enter into force. It was understood that an NSG membership would encourage India to clear the Paris Agreement.
In the end, diplomats said 38 countries declared outright support for India's accession, while nine others held out on questions of procedure. China however maintained its line against India which helped to sway fence-sitters like Ireland, New Zealand and Austria, who pushed for a process and criteria to determine entry of non-NPT countries.
Others like Switzerland raised concerns about rules of entry but supported India, said sources in the room.China's closest ally was Turkey , they said, but whether it was “process“ that was used as fig leaf or not, it helped China claim support of about a dozen countries for its position.
The NSG non-decision on India's membership will have implications for India's bilateral relations with China.While no one was willing to go public, China's open hostility to India's global aspirations is now out in the open, coming as it does after China's block on a UN sanction of terror leader Masood Azhar, will make progress difficult.
Chinese diplomats exercised a filibuster for the better part of Thursday to block a discussion on India. They only relented to a three-hour discussion on “Technical, Legal and Political Aspects of the Participation of non-NPT States in the NSG“ on condition that there would be no decision.
Ultimately , it took the joint efforts of western countries UK, Germany , France, Australia and US to build in an escape clause for India in the NSG plenary statement. This helps India revisit the NSG membership question later this year or the next NSG plenary in Switzerland.
A dejected MEA pointedly referred to “procedural hurdles persistently raised by one country“ behind the impasse.