Of all Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s relationships with international leaders since taking power two years ago, none has been more striking than his so-called “bromance” with US President Barack Obama.Defying fears of a frosty encounter, the two leaders’ first meeting shortly after Mr Modi’s May 2014 election victory was a huge success. US-India relations had been faltering but Mr Modi found in Mr Obama a willing partner to reinvigorate them, given Washington’s “pivot” to Asia and its efforts to counter China’s growing influence in the region.Mr Modi is set to land in the US on Monday for a visit that will include his seventh face-to-face meeting with Mr Obama. His trip comes as India seeks membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which sets global rules for international trade in nuclear energy technology.
New Delhi is looking to the US to help overcome resistance from China — which vies with India’s neighbour Pakistan as its key regional rival — and several others with strong anti-nuclear weapons policies, to shepherd India into the club.Indian nuclear tests in 1998 prompted Pakistan to conduct its own days later. Since then an arms race between the two, neither of which is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, has led each to amass a stockpile of more than 100 warheads.
But India also has ambitious plans to expand its nuclear energy capacity, something the US supports as a means of meeting the country’s power needs while limiting its contribution to global warming.Membership in the NSG — set up in response to the country’s first test of an atomic weapon in 1974 — would be the final step in a protracted US-led process to rehabilitate India from its erstwhile nuclear pariah status.
“Once India gets into this, it will complete India’s integration into the global nuclear order,” says C Raja Mohan, director of Carnegie India. “The NSG write the rules for how to run nuclear commerce in the world. India will be part of the management of the system.”