Chinese state media defended Pakistan’s nuclear record on Tuesday, saying it was AQ Khan who was responsible for atomic proliferation which was not supported by the government.
It argued that any exemption to India for NSG entry should also be given to Pakistan.
“While India strives for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) inclusion, it prevents Pakistan from joining by insisting on the latter’s bad record of nuclear proliferation. Actually, the proliferation carried out by Pakistan was done by Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s chief nuclear scientist, and was not an official policy of the Pakistani government,” an article in the state-run Global Times said.
“Khan was punished by the government afterwards with several years of house arrest. If the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the NSG can give India an exemption, it should apply to Pakistan as well,” it said.
This is perhaps first time Chinese official media has made a case for Pakistan’s inclusion in the NSG directly.
Officially, China maintains that there should be consensus about admitting all members.
“China and other countries are opposed to NSG including India while excluding Pakistan, because it means solving India’s problem but creating another bigger problem. If India joins hands with Pakistan to seek NSG membership, it seems more pragmatic than joining alone,” said the article titled ‘China no barrier to India joining NSG’.
India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests way back in 1998, which were criticized by international community. US, the EU and Japan all imposed harsh sanctions on the two countries at that time. After the September 11 attacks, sanctions were slowly lifted.
In fact, US even signed with India a Civil Nuclear Agreement and supports India’s bid to join NSG. But the issue of the legitimacy of India’s “nuclear status” has not been solved, it said.
“If India and Pakistan are allowed to join the NPT and adopt the CTBT, it will tarnish the authority of both. How can nuclear weapons development in other countries such as North Korea, Iran and Israel be dealt with,” the article said.
Article put the blame of proliferation from Pakistan directly on nuclear scientist Khan.
It was published as the NSG began its meeting in Seoul, even as the Chinese foreign ministry said India’s admission is not on the agenda.
NSG continues to remain divided over non-NPT countries like India becoming its members, China’s Foreign Ministry had said on Monday, a day after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had expressed hope that “we would be able to convince China to support our entry to the NSG.”
“We understand that non-NPT countries are concerned about their entry into the NSG. But as NSG is still divided about the issue, so it is still not perfect time to talk about the entry issue in the annual conference in Seoul,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying had said.
“The NSG plenary meeting started Monday and will end Friday in Seoul. In a bid to become a member of NSG, the Indian government has launched a diplomatic offensive and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have embarked on foreign visits to win support from NSG member states,” the article said.
“The NSG was set up by a group of countries that have civil nuclear technology, equipment and material export capabilities. It aims to achieve nuclear non-proliferation by preventing civil nuclear technology and material from being used to develop nuclear weapons,” it noted.