NEW DELHI: India is on course to become the 35th member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) this week as the first stage on the way to entry into the 48- nation Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). The MTCR membership, a move that has US support, will allow India to export and import missile technology subject to non-proliferation rules. Membership of the NSG will greatly boost India’s quest for clean nuclear power.
“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 has more than fulfilled all its commitments, including signing of the Hague Missile Code,” a top Modi government official told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity. Ministry of External Affairs officials, however, continue to be evasive, saying that India’s entry into the multi-lateral regime will be completed this summer now that the Reinforced Point of Contact meeting of MTCR officials this April has gone as per Indian plans. Unlike the NSG, China is still not a member of MTCR, a body formed by consensus.
Entry into MTCR will help add India add capabilities in highaltitude, long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) with or without armament.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team of advisors have been pushing for entry into these regimes by constantly engaging the principals.
President Pranab Mukherjee also added his weight to the effort, apparently reminding President Xi Jinping in Beijing last month that India has historically never opposed China’s entry into any multilateral forum, including the UN Security Council.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, who accompanied President Mukherjee, also told his Chinese counterpart that India needs a defined path with membership in NSG to plan for its future nuclear power needs.
Although India is looking towards Modi’s diplomacy and US President Barack Obama’s heavy-lifting for a push into the NSG at the June 9 plenary meeting in Vienna, American diplomats and corporate czars are very bullish on New Delhi’s entry into the MTCR and then the NSG.
India applied for MTCR membership last year while its application for NSG was submitted on May 12, 2016.
Modi’s Washington visit will see the two leaders finalising discussions on the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Agreement (LEMOA), that allows t he t wo countries to share each other’s naval facilities. The final document will, however, be signed by the defence ministers of the two countries.