India has got the membership of MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) on June 27th. While India’s impeccable record of non-proliferation helped India but Modi active diplomacy to reach out member countries and specifically getting Italy’s nod must be hailed. Italy had objected to India’s membership. India also signed on to the Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC) against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, the final step before its acceptance in the MTCR on 2nd Jun 16. HCOC supplements MTCR’s objectives. Following this Netherlands, the current chair of MTCR announced India’s membership of the group.

It is also to be credited to Modi’s diplomacy that the USA, which has a policy those members that are not recognized nuclear-weapon states — including India — must eliminate or forgo ballistic missiles able to deliver a 500 kg payload at least 300 km. In the past, it did make exceptions on ranges of missiles for South Korea and Ukraine.  Though Modi, a statesman that he is has also appreciated former PM Manmohan Singh’s efforts to get the India-USA nuclear deal done, that it turn opened many doors for India, including MTCR.

The group which was established  by established in April 1987 by the G7 countries: USA ,France, Canada Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Great Britain intends to slow down and restricts exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500 kg payload to least 300 km, or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction .

MTCR along with NSG (Nuclear Supplier’s Group), Australia Group and WASSENAAR arrangement is a very important international body and its membership paves way for India to buy high-end missile technology may also have an impact on its membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, the Missile Control Technology Regime, the Australian Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement are among world’s most important technology control regimes. The Australia group as established to prevent the spread of chemical and biological weapons and also to control the sale and export of chemicals and their precursors that can be used in chemical weapons.

The Wassenaar Arrangement seeks to regulate the export of conventional arms and dual-use technologies, to deny regimes deemed inimical to global stability sensitive technologies that can be procured in the name of civilian use but can then be used to build nasty weapons.

None of the member countries of this 34 member group (MTCR) objected to India’s membership within the specified deadline and that paved way for India’s membership. It is certainly an acknowledgement of perfect non-proliferation record and would also have an impact on NSG membership. “Aligning ourselves into international practice on nonproliferation has been a long-standing goal of our diplomacy,” Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said.

China is not a member of the MTCR and that has certainly helped too. India would now be able to buy drones and get high-end missile technology.

It would also facilitate India to export its supersonic BRAHMOS missile to countries like Vietnam which have shown interest in purchasing the dreaded missile. United States has also welcomed India’s membership of MTCR.

Benefits for India

  1. India will be able to sell BrahMos, a development that would make India a significant arms exporter for the first time. As of now, it cannot be said whether it would make the export of BrahMos easier or Harder.
  1. BrahMos missile’s range can now be extended to 600-800 KM . The BrahMos’ range is reported to be just below the threshold for the MTCR. But export of BrahMos would be more related to India-China relations and China-Russia relations as well as Russia is a co-developer and it would not want to upset China.
  1. Israel’s Arrow anti-ballistic missile system can be procured by India – defend itself against Pakistani as well as Chinese ballistic missiles.
  2. Indian Air Force and Navy are already in talks to buy the American Predator drones, particularly, the latest stealth Avenger drone. India will make a renewed pitch for purchasing armed drones from the USA, which in past had refused to sell India such technology citing international regulations.
  1. ISRO will have reliable access to restricted technologies for developing its cryogenic engines in order to enhance space exploration.
  2. It will also enable India to get more sophisticated space technologies. In the past USA has pressurized Russia from giving us Cryogenic Technology as MTCR didn’t allow it.

More importantly, India may use MTCR membership as a bargaining chip to prevent China from blocking our NSG membership. India has said that it would not block China’s entry into MTCR. China had applied for MTCR membership in 2004.

Modi has been doing his best to strengthen and safeguard India’s strategic interests. MTCR membership is certainly an encouragement of  India’s foreign office’s efforts.

Contributor: Sachin Diwaker