The Indian government has submitted its formal application for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US. The application was put forward on 12 May and the decision is expected to be made at a closed-door NSG summit in Vienna between 9 and 10 June.
India's application was sent almost one week before Pakistan's, who is being backed by NSG member China. Senior diplomats told the Economic Times that Prime Minister Modi had himself been at the centre of the fight to win NSG membership, personally reaching out to the 48 heads of government in the NSG to make a case for India.
India's final and most important attempt to win diplomatic backing for NSG membership will come during the Prime Minister's three-day visit to the United States on 6 June. The Indian government is hoping that Washington will be able to make a case for India's NSG membership ahead of the decision in Vienna.
Ahead of Modi's visit, US State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said on 3 June: "The US-India relationship is of incredible significance, not only to the region but to the world. The breadth of the US-Indian relationship is wide. It addresses security. It's got a strong economic component."
Although Washington has not commented on India's application to NSG, the State Department official noted that the US is looking to build closer relationships with India because they view the country as a "vital player in the region".
The NSG is a closed club that makes decisions only by popular consensus, thus making it crucial for the Indian government to lobby for their case. The group was formed as a reaction to India's first nuclear test in 1974 and China has continued to question "special treatment" of India.
Days before Modi's US visit, political analysts have commended the Indian Prime Minister's transition from a "pariah" to someone who is celebrated by the US government. This will be Modi's seventh meeting with President Obama since he took office in 2014, setting new records for both governments in respect to meeting a head of government from a country that is not a formal ally.