India joins elite missile tech club today

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018

Key move: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is likely to sign theinstrument of accession to the MTCR on Monday

As part of arms exports regulatory body, nation gains access to sensitive tech

India is all set to become an official member of weapon exports regulatory body Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The move will enable the Centre to gain access to certain sensitive technology, thereby building a robust arms export market.

The MTCR is one of the four global nuclear export control regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Wassennar Agreement and the Australia Group.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar is likely to sign the instrument of accession to the MTCR on Monday.

“India is all set to join MTCR. Its membership would further strengthen global non-proliferation objectives,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup told BusinessLine. India applied for membership of the 34-nation group in June 2015 in an effort to integrate itself with the global nuclear energy market.

Previous rejection

However, the application was rejected in October because Italy vetoed its entry. Italy was upset with India’s handling of the Enrica Lexie case, in which two of their marines shot dead two Indian fishermen. But, that obstacle has now been cleared with both marines back in their homeland, sources said.

Besides, India has strong backing by the US this time. The issue was elaborately discussed earlier this month when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama in Washington, the sources added.

India had been striving to be in the grouping since 2008, when it signed the Civil Nuclear Deal with the US.

In 2011, America removed India from its previous inclusion in the Entity List of several country groups under the Export Administration Act (EAA), and elevated India out of the categories within the dual use regulations.

Simultaneously, the US government added India to the preferential country group rated A2, which paved the way for India’s MTCR entry.

Membership benefits

The MTCR has two categories of items — Category I, the export of which is highly restricted, such as UAVs and rockets, and Category II, where exports of are moderately controlled, which includes dual-use technologies such as avionics, propellants and communication systems.

India will now be in a position to export arms to the countries that will be willing to buy them. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had recently said the Centre has decided to export 10 per cent of its missile capacity to friendly countries if producers can obtain viable orders.

Additionally, this will now give India the power to curb nuclear proliferation of other countries that is seen as a “concern.” For example, since China is not a member of the MTCR, India can now have a say in China supporting Pakistan’s nuclear activities, the sources said.

Apart from this, the US will now be able to sell to the Indian armed forces predatory drones, which are being extensively used by the US armed forces for their operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, among others.

Published on June 26, 2016

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