India is widely expected to be the 35th member of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) this week, a move that will boost the country’s efforts to export and import missile technology subject to non-proliferation rules from friendly nations.
If made partner in the regime, a precursor to being admitted into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), India will also be able to further its quest for clean nuclear energy.
The Obama administration has strongly backed India’s membership bid – India had applied for it last year – and three other export control regime, viz., Australia Group, NSG and the Wassenaar Arrangement.
“We expect the membership of MTCR to be announced on June 7 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Washington. India has been a unilateral adherent of MTCR since 2008 and have more than fulfilled all our commitments including signing of Hague missile code,” said a top Modi government official to Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity. The Hague Code of Conduct is considered to be complementary to the MTCR.
Officials of the ministry of external affairs, however, continue to play their cards close to their chest.
Though tight-lipped, they said India’s entry into the multi-lateral regime will be completed this summer since the MTCR’s Reinforced Point of Contact meeting this April went as per Indian plans.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team of advisors have made a relentless push for entry by constantly engaging the principals, President Pranab Mukherjee also added his weight to the effort by apparently reminding President Xi Jinping in Beijing last month that India has historically never opposed China’s entry into any multilateral fora including the UN Security Council.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar, who accompanied the Mukherjee, also told his Chinese counterpart that India needs a defined path to a membership in NSG to plan for its future nuclear power needs.
China, which is part of the 48-member NSG, is yet to be made member of MTCR.
Established in April 1987, the regime is a consensus body which includes most of the world’s key missile manufacturers, and aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.
For India, the membership will also help add capabilities to its high altitude, long range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) with or without armed payload.
Although India is looking towards PM Modi’s diplomacy and US President Barack Obama’s heavy lifting for a push in the NSG at the June 9 plenary meeting in Vienna, American diplomats and corporate czars are very bullish on New Delhi’s membership into MTCR and NSG.
India application for NSG was submitted on May 12, 2016.
While in Washington, both Modi and Obama will also finalise discussions on the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Agreement (LEMOA), that allows two countries to share each other’s naval facilities. The document, though, will be signed by the respective defence ministers.