India admitted into 34-nation missile tech control group

NEW DELHI • The members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an international anti-proliferation group, have agreed to admit India, diplomats said, in a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he met United States President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

Admission to the MTCR will open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology, making more realistic its aspiration to buy surveillance drones such as the US Predator, made by privately held General Atomics.

India also makes a supersonic cruise missile, the Brahmos, in a joint venture with Russia, that both countries hope to sell to Third World countries, a development that will make India a significant arms exporter for the first time.

Diplomats with direct knowledge of the matter said a deadline for members of the 34-nation group to object to India's admission had expired on Monday without any members raising objections.

Under this "silent procedure", India's admission follows automatically, diplomats from four MTCR member nations said on condition of anonymity.

Membership of the MTCR will require India to comply with rules, such as a maximum missile range of 300km, that seek to prevent arms races from developing.

The MTCR is one of four international non-proliferation regimes that India, which in recent decades has gone from being a non-aligned outsider to a rising nuclear weapons power, has been excluded from. No formal meeting is required for India to complete its entry into the group, set up in 1987 to limit the spread of unmanned systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

New Delhi has also applied to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 48-nation club that governs trade in commercial nuclear technology and was originally set up in response to India's first atomic weapons test in 1974.

Joining the NSG will be much more difficult because China is a member and it has backed the membership aspirations of Pakistan, its ally and India's arch-rival.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'India admitted into 34-nation missile tech control group'. Print Edition | Subscribe