Mem­ber­ship of MTCR for In­dia

The aim of the MTCR is to re­strict the pro­lif­er­a­tion of mis­siles, com­plete rocket sys­tems and un­manned air ve­hi­cles ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing weapons of mass de­struc­tion

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - AIR MAR­SHAL B.K. PANDEY (RETD)

While the na­tion was in the process of com­ing to terms with the dis­ap­point­ment of fail­ure of the high-pro­file and vig­or­ous diplo­matic ef­fort by the NDA Gov­ern­ment to be­come a part of the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group (NSG), on June 27, 2016, came the some­what en­cour­ag­ing news from Paris that In­dia had been suc­cess­ful in join­ing the Mis­sile Tech­nol­ogy Con­trol Regime (MTCR) as a full mem­ber. Since the con­clu­sion of the Indo-US Civil Nu­clear Deal be­tween Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush and Prime Min­is­ter Dr Man­mo­han Singh nearly a decade ago, In­dia has been mak­ing ef­forts to be a part of these two ex­port con­trol regimes as also of the Aus­tralia Group and the Wasse­naar Ar­range­ment that to­gether reg­u­late the con­ven­tional, nu­clear, bi­o­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal weapons and tech­nolo­gies. As per the Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs, it is be­lieved that In­dia’s mem­ber­ship of the MTCR would help strengthen global non-pro­lif­er­a­tion ob­jec­tives. In­dia’s en­try into the MTCR is ex­pected to re­move or re­duce im­ped­i­ments for the na­tion to ex­port high-tech mis­siles such as BrahMos to other coun­tries as well as pur­chase the Preda­tor un­manned com­bat aerial ve­hi­cles from the US. How­ever, fresh pol­icy frame­work would have to be drawn up and im­ple­mented.

Es­tab­lished in 1987, the MTCR is an in­for­mal and vol­un­tary part­ner­ship that with the en­try of In­dia now con­sists of 35 coun­tries. The aim of the MTCR is to re­strict the pro­lif­er­a­tion of mis­siles, com­plete rocket sys­tems and un­manned air ve­hi­cles (UAVs) ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing weapons of mass de­struc­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, the regime keeps a check on trans­fer of mis­siles and UAVs ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a pay­load of at least 500 kg to a range of 300 km. The group also fo­cuses on any equip­ment, soft­ware or tech­nol­ogy that can en­able a na­tion to pro­duce such sys­tems. MTCR part­ner na­tions en­cour­age all coun­tries to ob­serve guide­lines pro­mul­gated by the regime on trans­fers of mis­siles and re­lated tech­nol­ogy as a con­tri­bu­tion to com­mon se­cu­rity. A coun­try can choose to ad­here to the guide­lines with­out be­ing ob­li­gated to join the group and a num­ber have done so. The part­ner na­tions of the regime wel­come op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­duct broader di­a­logue on pro­lif­er­a­tion is­sues with such coun­tries.

In June 2015, In­dia had ap­plied for mem­ber­ship of the MTCR with sup­port from the US and France. The ap­pli­ca­tion was con­sid­ered in the 29th ple­nary ses­sion of the MTCR that was held in Rot­ter­dam in Oc­to­ber 2015. How­ever, In­dia’s maiden at­tempt at that time to be a part of the MTCR had not suc­ceeded. It is gen­er­ally be­lieved that the suc­cess­ful en­try into the MTCR will pave the way for In­dia get­ting mem­ber­ship of the NSG.

How­ever, at­tempts at en­try by In­dia into the NSG may be laced with hur­dles as China is seek­ing sim­i­lar sta­tus for Pak­istan. Strangely, this is de­spite Islamabad’s per­sis­tent and con­sis­tent record in both nu­clear and mis­sile pro­lif­er­a­tion. In­dia faced stiff op­po­si­tion from China and a few other coun­tries and the fact that it is not a sig­na­tory to the Nu­clear Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty was a ma­jor is­sue. It was used by these na­tions for thwart­ing In­dia’s bid at the Seoul meet­ing de­spite the strong back­ing by the US. How­ever, the na­tion need not lose hope as there will be fresh op­por­tu­ni­ties in not too dis­tant a fu­ture for en­try into the NSG. How­ever, the ma­jor diplo­matic chal­lenge be­fore the na­tion would be to ne­go­ti­ate the next round of ne­go­ti­a­tions for en­try into the NSG with­out fur­ther es­ca­lat­ing an­i­mos­ity with China.

The ma­jor diplo­matic chal­lenge be­fore In­dia would be to ne­go­ti­ate the next round of ne­go­ti­a­tions for en­try into the NSG with­out fur­ther es­ca­lat­ing an­i­mos­ity with China

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