Dr Roshan Writes: India’s diplomatic efforts to join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) are finally showing dividends as India is now slated to become its member. The deadline for any objection to India’s entry into the group by any member state, ended on Monday and since there were no objections hence now India would formally become a member. The aim of the MTCR is to restrict the proliferation of missiles, complete rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles, and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogram payload at least 300 kilometres, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)[i]. This 34 nation strong regime has through its MTCR Equipment, Software and Technology Annex list tried to control the proliferation of weapons. India informally had been adhering to the principles of MTCR in the past. Also India has been a keen supporter of nuclear non-proliferation and prior to this India had subscribed to ‘The Hague Code of Conduct’, which is another non-binding multilateral organisation which aims to prevent the proliferation of ‘Ballistic Missile’ and India had also concurred in the past the negotiations on the ‘Fissile Missile Cut-offs Treaty’ (FMCT), (the latter was though blocked by the Pakistanis).
This membership of MTCR would be advantageous to India in three ways. Firstly India can now import required high-end missile technologies which were banned earlier. There were reports that India had wanted to buy a series of Predator Drones (for the Indian army) from the US, this can now be facilitated. Secondly, India’s technological growth has been considerable in the last few years, and India now aspires to export certain technologies, especially the sale of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam. Becoming a member will ease the sale of BrahMos provided, however; Russia concur this offer, as it is an Indo-Russian Joint venture. Finally India would be free to import technologies from other MTCR members for peaceful purposes especially in the space domain. Thus this is an important step in expanding India’s image as a responsible player in the global nuclear govenance. This will also facilitate India’s entry into other multilateral export control regimes like the Australian group and the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies.
The Indian Prime Minister is also lobbying hard to get India’s entry into the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG). However a lot will depend on India’s efforts to isolate China on this issue, because it is China who has reservations of accepting India as a NSG member. However; if India gets membership to other major multilateral export groups then in future (if India is denied the membership to NSG this time) it can ease the way for India to become a member of NSG.
Since last decade India’s foreign policy had been actively involved in crafting a positive role for India in the global nuclear governance. Whether, it was the case of giving financial support to IAEA, or signing of important multilateral treaties like International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) and Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) etc. India has been actively involved in its triad of ‘Disarmament‘, ‘Nuclear Non-proliferation’ and ‘Nuclear Terrorism’. Thus, India joining this treaty will send the message that India is genuine in its efforts and that India’s development of niche technologies is not aimed at enhancing its nuclear arsenal but it is for peaceful purposes.
[i] Objectives of Missite Technology Control Regime at http://www.mtcr.info/english/objectives.html