- India has formally applied for the membership of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a West-dominated elite club of 34 countries that controls trade in missile and space technology. The application may happen at MTCR’s plenary due in September-October.
- Indian diplomats feel the country’s chances of getting the membership are bright.
- India’s space and missile programmes will gain from MTCR membership since it will get access to world-class technology. MTCR will also allow it to export its own technology to countries that comply with the regime.
- Applying for MTCR membership is an important diplomatic step because this brings India closer to technology control regimes that the country had fought and worked around for decades to build its missile and space programmes.
- Delhi’s aim is to have the membership considered at MTCR’s next plenary in September-October.
- The decision to include India as a member has to be through consensus and India’s bet is on Washington to pilot the process.
- Due to the nuclear weapons programme, India had always found itself at the receiving end of MTCR guidelines.
Indian space programme
- While the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) tightened controls on fissile material and weapons technology, MTCR was focused on delivery systems such as long-range missiles that would carry weapon payloads.
- The Indian space programme, though meant for peaceful purposes, also suffered as a consequence.
- ISRO’s deal with Russia for purchase of cryogenic engines, for instance, ran aground after US objected to the sale as a violation of MTCR guidelines.
- One of the key outcomes of the Indo-US nuclear deal was that India would align itself to MTCR guidelines.
- Over the past six years, India has rejigged its export control guidelines to mirror MTCR requirements.
- NSG, it may be noted, also granted a special waiver for India as a consequence of the nuclear deal to be able to legitimately participate in nuclear trade despite its weapons programme.
- NSG, MTCR, Wassenaar arrangement (small arms) and Australia Group (chemical weapons) together constitute what India has always called the ‘technology denial regime’.
- With strong US assurance, further cemented during US President Barack Obama’s visit to India, South Block took the call to first move for membership of MTCR.
- For the past few years, India has been engaging these groups through outreach discussions.
Source:The Economic Times