The NSG has already made its rules, covering every aspect of nuclear trade, spelt out in its guidelines and trigger-lists. Complying with the fiat from the U.S. Congress in 2006, which demanded that India harmonise its export control legislation and regulations with those of the NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group and adhere to their guidelines if it wanted the nuclear deal, we have done so. The NSG’s original guidelines were issued in 1978 and revised in 1992. In 2010, two years after it granted us the waiver that freed us from its clutches, it decided that its rules should be updated; the revised guidelines, incorporating 54 amendments, were issued in June 2013.
Other arguments have been put forward for our getting into the NSG: that the waiver could be revoked, that China could create problems for India, that if we are there we can ensure Pakistan is not, and we should be in a cabal that is so powerful. These are ripe red herrings.
It is therefore utterly baffling that the government is straining every sinew to get into the NSG, in effect to shoot itself in the foot. But its apologists have sprung into action, lauding to the skies the Gadarene rush to Seoul. We are told that India now no longer fears foreign policy failure, that this mindless slavering for what it should not want, and cannot have, actually reveals a new level of self-assurance, the overcoming of deference towards the great powers, the confidence to finesse conflicts of interest, the dexterity to maintain relations with parties mutually hostile, a willingness to take risks and to go it alone that is the great gift and quality of this government, a break from the timidity of the past.