India on Monday joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an exclusive club of countries controlling exports in missile technology, days after it failed to get into another elite group that governs international nuclear fuel and technology.
Last week, at a plenary meeting of the nuclear group in Seoul, India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) was shot down after China and a few other countries raised procedural hurdles.
China, which stonewalled India’s entry into the 48-nation bloc, is not a member of MTCR. Beijing’s application to join the MTCR is pending, leading to some analysts in New Delhi to say India could use it as a bargaining chip to leverage its entry into the nuclear group.
The foreign ministry, in a statement issued soon after signing the accession document in the presence of the ambassadors of France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, thanked the other 34 members of the MTCR group for supporting its inclusion.
“India’s entry into the regime as its thirty-fifth member would be mutually beneficial in the furtherance of international non-proliferation objectives,” the statement said.
Bolstering the non-proliferation agenda! In a signal move, India joins the Missile Technology Control Regime today pic.twitter.com/RrEUwxOgOV— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) June 27, 2016
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar signed onto the MTCR aimed at preventing the unchecked proliferation of missiles and their delivery systems.
Admission in the MTCR was seen as the next step for India in legitimising its nuclear energy and missile programs after it conducted atomic tests in 1998 that alarmed the international community. MTCR membership will enable India to buy high-end missile technology and also enhance its joint ventures with Russia.
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-kilogramme payload for at least 300 kilometres, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
In 2008, India signed a landmark civil nuclear deal with the United States giving it some access to nuclear materials and technologies.
Since then, India has been pushing for its inclusion in the various elite groups like NSG, MTCR, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement that control the export of nuclear materials and regulate technologies relating to conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
India still hopes to secure support for joining the NSG, despite strong objections from China.
New Delhi, still smarting over being denied entry, on Sunday hit out at Beijing, saying that the issue of its membership of the nuclear group was not going to go away.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said New Delhi had taken up the issue with Beijing at multiple levels.
“We are going to continue discussing this with China. This is going to be an important element of our discussion with China. We will continue to impress upon them that relationships move forward on the basis of mutual accommodation of each other’s interests, concerns and priorities,” Swarup told reporters in New Delhi.
(With AP and PTI inputs)