Italy 'torpedoes' India's entry to MTCR: What you need to know about dual-technology regimes

While addressing some questions about the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case on Thursday, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar accussed Italy of “torpedoing” India’s attempt to join Missile Technology Controls Regime (MTCR), according to The Economic Times. India is actively eyeing membership of not only the MTCR but also the Nuclear Suppliers group (NSG), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia group. Instead of being at the receiving end of the guidelines issued by these groups, it plans on getting assistance for its programmes.

While countries like China and now Italy have opposed India's admission to these regimes, the US has been a strong supporter of India gaining membership to these groups. Washington believes New Delhi is aligned with international safeguards and could be a useful partner in supporting global non-proliferation.

Let's understand these international treaties and India's present position in detail:

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Missile Technology Controls Regime (MTCR)

MTCR was established in 1987 by the G7 countries and aims to limit the proliferation of missile and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical or nuclear attacks. It is an involuntary partnership between 34 countries which urge each other to restrict their missle export and technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload a minimum of 300 kilometres.

India formally applied for a MTCR membership in June 2015 which was eventually blocked by Italy in protest of India’a arrest of two Italian marines suspected of shooting an Indian fisherman. The membership would have immensely helped India in getting access to to world-class technology, according to a report by The Economic Times. It would have also allowed India to export its own technology to countries that comply with MTCR.

Nuclear Suppliers Group

The NSG is a group of nuclear suppliers countries which promote non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It attempts to control the exports and re-transfer of materials applicable to nuclear weapon development. It was founded in 1974 as to response to India's ‘Smiling Buddha’. Countries already part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) saw the need to further limit the export of nuclear equipment.

India’s attempt to joining the NSG was blocked by several nations who considered signing of the NPT as an important standard for the NSG’s expansion. President Barack Obama, however, reaffirmed that US believes India meets the missile technology control regime and is ready for NSG, according to The Economic Times.

Wassenaar Arrangement

Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability. It aims to promote transparency and greater responsibility in transfer of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. It has 41 member states and was established in 1996 as an extension of Coordination committee for Multilateral export Controls (COCOM). The participating states ensure that transfer of materials do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities.

India is not a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement, but hopes to be one soon. The United States is likely to support India’s bid.

The Australia Group

The Australia Group is an informal forum of countries that seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons. It was established in 1985 and presently has 42 members.

During his trip to India, Obama endorsed India’s candidature for the Australia Group, which was later supported by France. A team of the Australia Group visited India in April 2011 but, a decision is yet to be taken.

Considering that India strictly adheres with the guidelines of all these groups, it is probably time for countries to reconsider India’s bid.

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Updated Date: May 27, 2016 10:02:13 IST

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