MTCR – emerging shift in Indian approach to multilateral non-proliferation regimes

The global nonproliferation regime and India’s perception of it has evolved significantly over the last two decades. India’s nuclear restraint and “respect for non-proliferation goals” hold reasonable value, and these have convinced the world to accommodate India, and stabilized its relations with the broader non-proliferation regime.

After the 1998 nuclear tests, India’s then-external affairs minister Jaswant Singh, in a statement to parliament on the 2000 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, declared: “India is a nuclear-weapon state. Though not party to the NPT, India’s policies have been consistent with the key provisions of NPT that apply to nuclear-weapon states.”

India has maintained its stance on the NPT stating, “India’s position on the NPT is well-known. There is no question of India joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. Nuclear weapons are an integral part of India’s national security and will remain so, pending non-discriminatory and global nuclear disarmament.” However, a major turning point came in 2005, when the U.S.-India civil nuclear deal was reached, as it laid the foundation for India’s involvement with the IAEA and other such international non-proliferation bodies. To this end, India has accepted some non-proliferation measures and has been billed “a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology.” Since then, India has tried to maintain harmony with the international non-proliferation regime, causing its integration into the community.

Recent examples of a shift in India’s approach have been New Delhi’s offering confidence building measures such as bilateral or multilateral agreements pledging no first use and no attack on non-nuclear weapon states. A bigger step towards India’s acceptance of global nonproliferation regimes came in June 2015, with its formal application for membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This marked its first substantial contribution to the global non-proliferation cause. India is supported in this endeavor by the United States, and is also looking to be represented in other export control regimes, namely the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group.

A voluntary and consensus-based group of countries, MTCR is based on shared “goals of nonproliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, and which seek to coordinate national export licensing efforts aimed at preventing their proliferation.” The association was created by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and has 34 members at present.

The July 2005 joint statement by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W. Bush noted that India will assume “responsibilities and practices” to ensure that “necessary steps have been taken to secure nuclear materials and technology through comprehensive export control legislation and through harmonization and adherence to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines.”

India has adhered to that promise by playing a proactive role in curtailing the spread of materials and other such technologies stated under the MTCR agreement. A major step has been India’s aligning its export control list of Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment, and Technologies (SCOMET) to meet MTCR and NSG requirements.

India is a leading importer and a potential major exporter of missiles and related technologies, and thus MTCR membership will bring gains and further enhance its missile and space programs. It will allow India to participate in high-tech, sensitive technology trade, which is generally dual-use.

India has already developed a political understanding among like-minded partners, but it needs to engage more nations to acquire support for its membership. One such member is Italy, which is challenging India’s membership because it is upset over two Italian marines being tried for killing two Indian fishermen in 2012. However, India’s reasonable record of non-proliferation has helped India gain trust among other nations. This dynamic will further shape India’s future engagement at the multilateral level, and impact the proceedings and outcome of the upcoming MTCR plenary meeting, to be held at Oslo.


Image: Dhiraj Singh-Bloomberg, Getty 

Posted in , India, Nonproliferation, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Policy

Devanshi Shah

Devanshi Shah

Devanshi Shah is a fourth year student pursuing a BA (Hons) in International Relations and Mass Communication at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, School of Liberal Studies, Gandhinagar. She plans to pursue a career in international relations and media, and enjoys reading, writing, and exploring the world.

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6 thoughts on “MTCR – emerging shift in Indian approach to multilateral non-proliferation regimes

  1. India’s case for entry into other multilateral export technology-control cartels like the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement denied to other non-NPT countries, a dangerous new precedent will be set for the global arms control regime at a time when South Asian region is facing different challenges.

  2. Ms Debansgi Shah, you stated that “Italy… is upset over two Italian marines BEING TRIED for KILLING two fishermen in 2012”. I beg to differ from the eternal copy-paste Indian press version. Those two military were illegally arrested through Indian deception and were framed by Kerala crooks to suit their political needs by taking advantage of a feeble and unprepared Italian Govt.
    There were two separate shootings on 15.02.12 one at 4pm the other at 9.20pm. Failing culprits for the latter shooting incident, which resulted in two casualties, they grabbed those behind the former who killed no one.
    After over three years of this farce the Italians lost patience and approached ITLOS.
    At Hamburg the Indian lies were revealed by clerical error: the Indian annexes should have been limited to the forged ones point to the marines’guilt instead some fool at MEA also sent the Annexe 4 post-mortems. This document was written on the day after the incident and always kept hidden. Now it’s public and tells the Indian lie. Should you be open-minded and unbiased enough please download these pages:
    Moreover an Excel file tells the Whole story at:
    As to the Indian Annexes for the Enrica Lexie case all you need is sending ITLOS an e-mail request as I did.
    They’ll send them to you right away: they’re public.
    Should you need any further details please ask.
    Best regards
    Mario Ricci

  3. I wonder why the data recorders and past voyage records on the ship were completely clean wiped when the authorities tried to recover the same to investigate. May be you can shed light on that too.

  4. The answer is simple. The VDR overwrites ilself in a continuous 12h cycle. The incident with a still unknown attacker (not St Antony which occurred 5h later) occurred at 4pm ship time i.e. 4.30pm IST. Since only shots into water were fired and that attacker fled with no issue nor victims there was no need to file VDR data and stop it. The tanker was later cheated into Kochi outer anchorage which was reached at abt 11pm IST. The Police only boarded at 9.30am and told them then the real reason. Work the 12h and see for yourself.

  5. Thank you for your time and response. I shall keep writing articles with more in depth analysis.

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