China urges India to take steps to satisfy standards of nuclear group

India prime minster Narendra Modi (right) watched by US President Barack Obama during a joint press conferencen at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India on Jan 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
India prime minster Narendra Modi (right) watched by US President Barack Obama during a joint press conferencen at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India on Jan 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China called on India on Monday to take more steps to satisfy the standards of a global organisation that controls atomic exports after United States President Barack Obama said the United States was in favour of India joining the group.

Mr Obama reaffirmed on the weekend during a visit to India the U.S. position that India is ready for membership into the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), according to a U.S.-India joint statement.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said India's admission to the group "requires very careful consideration from all the member countries". "We support the group carrying out discussions on admitting new members and at the same time we encourage India to take the next steps to satisfy the relevant standards of the group," Ms Hua told a daily news briefing. She did not elaborate.

The United States, Britain and other members have argued in favour of India joining the organisation, established in 1975 to ensure that civilian nuclear trade is not diverted for military aims.

But India would be the only member of the suppliers' group that has not signed up to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a 189-nation treaty set up four decades ago to prevent states from acquiring nuclear weapons.

This has caused some NSG states to raise doubts about India joining the group, which plays a pivotal role in countering nuclear threats and proliferation. Some also argue that it could erode the credibility of the NPT, a cornerstone of global nuclear disarmament efforts.

India has yet to formally apply to join the NSG and would need the support of all member states in order to be successful.

Diplomats have said China was among the doubtful countries. Its reservations may be influenced by its close ties to Pakistan, India's rival, which has also tested atomic bombs and is also outside the NPT, analysts say.

Separately, Hua criticised both Mr Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for statements calling for "freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea".

"We hope that external countries can play a constructive role on the South China Sea issue, jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea and work together to maintain a fine situation in the South China Sea and not to stir up trouble," she said.

China claims most of the South China Sea and rejects claims to parts of it by neighbours including the Philippines and Vietnam. It also rejects outside calls for negotiations between the rival claimants.