After Switzerland and the US, Mexico has supported India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) – a 48-member club of nations that control trade in advanced nuclear technologies.

During his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said that the Alpine country “positively” and “constructively” supports the South Asian nation’s efforts to join the elite Group. President Nieto told the visiting premier: “Mexico recognises India’s interest in joining the NSG. As a country, we have a positive and constructive backing for this.” He also appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s “commitment to the agenda of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation”.

PM Modi thanked the president, calling Mexico an important partner of India in the field of energy security. Speaking at a joint press conference, he stressed: “We are looking to move beyond a buyer-seller relationship and into a long-term partnership… We have agreed to develop a roadmap of concrete outcomes to upgrade our ties to a strategic partnership.” The two leaders attended the press conference after holding wide-ranging talks on important bilateral and global issues.

Mexico backed India’s membership bid on a day the NSG member-countries held a closed-door meeting in the Austrian capital of Vienna to discuss New Delhi’s case. As expected, China led the opposition to a push by the US and other major powers for India’s entry to the Group. At the meeting, a senior Chinese diplomat said: “By bringing India on board, it’s a slap on the face of the entire non-proliferation regime.” He argued that India should not get the membership, as it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Some other countries, including New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria, also opposed India’s bid.

However, the US, Switzerland and Mexico countered China’s argument, saying that they supported India’s inclusion based on its non-proliferation track record. Foreign policy experts are of the opinion that Mexico’s backing for India’s NSG application marks a historic policy shift for the Central American country that has held a firm position on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation for decades. PM Modi tacked on Switzerland and Mexico as extra stops on his five-nation tour to seek their support on joining the elite nuclear club.

Although a final decision on India’s NSG membership is not expected before the Group’s plenary in Seoul on June 20, diplomats in Vienna said that Washington was pressuring the hold-outs and Thursday’s meeting was a chance to see how strong the opposition was.

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]