The US has reaffirmed its support for India's membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and said it has called on other members of the elite grouping to back New Delhi's application. India has applied for the membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which controls international nuclear trade. "The United States welcomed India's application to join the NSG and it continues to re-affirm that India is ready for the membership. The United States has called on NSG members to support India's application," the Department of Defence and Department of State said in a joint report. In the report submitted to Congress as required under National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017, the Trump administration also re-affirmed its support for India's membership in the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement as soon as India meets each group's membership criteria. The US and India share a commitment to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, the report said. China has been opposing India's bid on the grounds that it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). China's opposition has made India's entry into the group difficult as it is guided by the consensus principle. A plenary meeting of the NSG in Bern last month had discussed India's membership bid and decided to hold another meeting in November to discuss the issue. "Since 2010, the US has supported India's membership in the four multilateral export control regimes -- Wassenaar Arrangement, NSG, Australia Group, and the Missile Technology Control Regime -- as India prepared to take the steps required for membership in each one," it said. The US, the report said, welcomed India as a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime and its subscription to the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation in June 2016. The report notes that the future leadership of Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) will consist of an individual with experience in defence acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure the success of the US-India Defence Relationship.
This individual will help resolve remaining issues impeding bilateral defence trade and other cooperation, it said. The NDAA for FY 2017 also directs the Department to reorganise the Office of the USD (AT&L) into two new Under Secretary positions -- one for Research and Engineering (USD (R&E)) and one for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD (A&S)). "This change will take effect no later than February 2018. The organisational responsibility for DTTI will be determined as part of the reorganisation of AT&L; however, this determination will not affect DTTI's ongoing work," the report said. The US defence industry has provided India with proposals for F-16 Block 70 and F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft, the report said. "These proposals will help create and maintain jobs in both countries and demonstrate the depth of our commitment to defence cooperation," it said. Since 2008, the US and India have concluded more than USD 15 billion in defence trade, including the transfer from the US to India of C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, Harpoon missiles, Apache and Chinook helicopters, and M777 light-weight Howitzers. India operates the second largest C-17 and P-8 fleets in the world, recently using its C-17s to deliver humanitarian assistance to Nepal and evacuate civilians from Yemen, the report added. The US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner" in June 2016 intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners. "The Major Defence Partner designation reflects the readiness of the United States to facilitate the export of goods and technologies for projects, programs, and joint ventures in support of official US-India defence cooperation," said the report. In 2012, the US Department of Defence and India's Ministry of Defence established the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) as a means of strengthening industrial cooperation and moving away from the traditional "buyer- seller" approach. "The US-India defence relationship has matured and strengthened significantly over the past 15 years. Our strategic partnership rests on our shared democratic values, security interests, and strong people-to-people ties," the report said. While India has garnered the support of a majority of the group's members, China has stuck to its stand that new members should sign the NPT. India is not a signatory to the NPT.