Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hinted that his top priority will be to get membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) for India during the upcoming US visit.

Prime Minister Modi, who will attend the fourth Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C. later this month, told the media that NSG membership is crucial for the South Asian country, as it would help India finalise civilian nuclear deals with Japan and some other countries.

Although President Barrack Obama expressed concerns over the proliferation of small nuclear weapons in South Asia, Modi decided to push hard for concrete results during the summit.

The US defence experts have different views on India’s NSG membership. Independent international security expert Theresa Hitchens said: “There has been a lot of debate about letting India into the NSG. Incidentally, China has signalled that it may seek to get Pakistan in as a quid pro quo for not blocking India’s membership.” According to Hitchens, the US is not ready to accept Pakistan as a NSG member.

In the past, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj urged NSG Chairperson and Argentinean Ambassador to Vienna Rafael Grossi to try to build a consensus for admitting India at the 48-member group’s annual meeting. For the last couple of years, discussions have been going on in India also for the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) membership. In 2015, Italy served a huge blow to India by blocking its request for MTCR membership. India believes that NSG membership will make it easier for the country to get MTCR membership in the future.

Meanwhile, a senior External Affairs Ministry official has informed the press that Prime Minister Modi will cover two of the country’s foreign policy priorities during the short three-nation visit next week by attending the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC, India-EU Summit in Brussels and then by flying to Saudi Arabia in his first official visit. The March 31-April 1 Nuclear Security Summit is significant because it is the last summit under President Obama’s Presidency. During the Summit, India and some other countries will come out with a communiqué for the future of the nuclear security regime.

Spokesperson of the Indian ministry Vikas Swarup believes that the communiqué will become a significant diplomatic achievement for President Obama and world leaders. He confirmed that PM Modi would announce India’s nuclear security plans during the Summit, apart from submitting latest “progress reports” on steps taken by his government to prevent non-state actors from gaining access to nuclear material. “Prime Minister Modi will also make some specific announcements during his intervention on nuclear security, which will be made public in due course,” stressed Swarup.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]