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Friday, June 24, 2016, 17:16

China shares stance on NSG membership

By Xinhua

SEOUL - China has reiterated its call for innovative ideas to forge consensus on the application of non-signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Wang Qun, director-general of the Department of Arms Control of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters here on Thursday that China has once again pushed the NSG to discuss the application issue of non-signatories to the NPT "in an innovative format" at the group's annual meeting held here on the same day.

"It should be stressed that such format is not only more formal,  but represents a major result achieved at this annual plenary," he said.

The enlargement of NSG "is a formidable task and parties are far apart withing the group," Wang said, noting that China's approach is basically two-fold - the NSG's rules should be respected, as such rules are not targeted against any specific countries, and innovative ideas are called for to forge consensus.

"To this end, China had pushed the NSG to conduct informal discussions under the Argentina Chairmanship," he said.

Wang said China appreciated the leadership role of South Korea in its capacity of chairmanship of the NSG, and that China for its part has also made its due contribution at the meeting.

Wang noted that China attaches great importance to the issue concerning the application of non-signatories to the NPT for NSG membership and would like to continue the discussion on the issue.

In response to a report that at the Seoul meeting, China is blocking India's NSG membership, he said the NSG has not agreed any agenda with the item on the application of non-signatories to the NPT and the Seoul meeting has no such item on its agenda either.

"So, there is no point of so-called opposing or supporting," he added.

Under the Argentina Chairmanship, China has worked hard to push discussions on the issue in all aspects and so far three rounds of discussions had been conducted in the format of Friends of Chair meetings, Wang said.

Despite many differences in the course of discussion, the Chinese side believes such discussions are useful and enhance the mutual understanding of relevant parties, he added.

Applicant stance

Wang said that concerning the eligibility of new members of the NSG, there are several criteria covering a wide spectrum, but being a NPT member "is a must."

"This is a rule not set by China, but reaffirmed by the international community," the Chinese Foreign Ministry official stressed.

NPT represents the cornerstone of the entire non-proliferation regime, Wang said, adding that if exceptions are allowed here or there on the question of NPT, the international non-proliferation will collapse altogether.

He noted that in the absence of NPT as political and legal basis, it would be inconceivable to reach a nuclear deal with Iran,  let alone to seek to address the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsular.

While it's easy to adopt double standards, the consequence can be enormous, Wang said.

China ready to help India

China understands India's sentiment on developing nuclear energy to meet climate changes, Wang said, adding that this is also the common challenges confronting the developing countries.

Noting that India has bilateral cooperation with many NSG members in nuclear energy, Wang said that subject to India's needs,  China also stands ready to explore cooperation in this field, so as to help India address its nuclear energy needs.

The Chinese official also pointed out that NPT is not at odds with the Paris Agreement on climate change, and on the contrary, they are mutually reinforcing and supportive.

One of the pillars in NPT is to ensure the legitimate rights of country in developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, he added.

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