The stage is all set for India to officially assume the chairmanship of Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), January 1, 2023.
“India assuming the Chair of Wassenaar arrangement attests to its commitment and credibility as a country committed to disarmament and prevention of misuse of dual use products and technologies which is a joint International effort to contain any negative fallout,” says Ambassador Anil Triguynat tells Financial Express Online.
“Hopefully India will soon be part of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) overcoming the zero sum mindset of some countries in that group,” the former diplomat adds.
On December 1, 2022, at the 26th annual plenary of the Wassenaar arrangement in Vienna, Ambassador of Ireland handed over the chairmanship to India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Jaideep Mazumdar. Ambassador Mazumdar is based in Vienna.
“Hopefully India will soon be part of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) overcoming the zero sum mindset of some countries in that group,” Ambassador Anil Triguynat tells Financial Express Online.
What does it mean for India as incoming Chair of the Wassenaar arrangement?
“This is a positive development,” official Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Arindam Bagchi said during the weekly briefing in New Delhi on Thursday.
“India remains ready and committed to work in close cooperation with other members of this grouping to contribute to regional international security and stability,” he added.
All you want to know about Wassenaar Arrangement (WA)
This is a grouping of 42 countries that seeks to advance security and stability in the sale and transfer of materials and technologies that can be used to make nuclear and conventional weapons. India became a member of the Arrangement in 2017.
The group works by regularly exchanging information in respect of technology, both conventional and nuclear-capable, that is sold to, or denied to countries outside the grouping. This is done through maintenance and updating of detailed lists of chemicals, technologies, processes and products that are considered militarily significant.
Through this exchange of information, the group aims at controlling the movement of technology, material or components to countries or entities which undermine international security and stability. India is set to become the chair of the plenary from January 1, 2023. The plenary comprises all the 42 countries of the group, is the primary decision making body and is chaired on a rotation basis annually. The decisions of the plenary are taken by consensus.
As a chair of the plenary, India would be in a position to steer discussions of the group to further strengthen the export controls to prevent arms diversion to terrorists or to sovereign nations supporting terrorism.
G20 & WA
“The timing of India’s WA chairmanship coincides with a recent increase in country’s anti-terrorism position in international bodies. Terrorism is one of the three challenges along with climate change and pandemics in India’s agenda for its G20 presidency beginning December 1st 2022. India is also actively engaging global stakeholders in curbing terrorist financing. The Union Home Minister is presently the chair of the No Money for Terrorism (NMFT) ministerial initiative,” explained a senior diplomat who wished to remain anonymous.
Not only has India hosted the NMFT Conference in November 2022, it has also mooted the setting up of NMFT’s permanent secretariat in India. The clarity of India’s leadership towards a uniform, unified and zero-tolerance approach towards terrorism takes a quantum leap with the chairmanship of the WA as the proliferation of arms and dual-use technology is one of the building blocks of terrorist organisations.
While the WA intends to block cross-border trade/transfer of technology and equipment, the NMFT aims at uprooting the financial and other support networks of terrorist organisation and state actors supporting terrorism. What we are seeing today is the beginning of a two pronged approach by India towards weeding out terrorism and fundamentalism.
“The worsening economic crisis in India’s western neighbour coupled with rapid radicalization of historically moderate sects in communities in the country poses a peculiar set of challenges to India. Strengthening the licensing and enforcement practices under the WA and adoption of new export controls in areas like flight technology, interception technology and digital investigation tools will pave the way for the creation of a strong anti-proliferation framework for South Asia,” explained an expert.
India’s chairmanship of the WA Plenary is also significant in the long run considering the recent spurt in investment and activity in the local defence and space sectors. As the chair of the WA, India could play a significant role in democratising access to technologies and processes that can serve as crucial building blocks for the newly emerging defence and space manufacturing sectors in India. India is slowly emerging as a low-cost producer of several items in the WA’s control lists. At the helm of the plenary, India’s chair-ship would go a long way in establishing the credibility of the country as a responsible stakeholder in the global non-proliferation architecture.