India is actively trying to join the export control regimes, the Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group, notwithstanding China’s attempts to stonewall its bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).An entry into the two groups can help strengthen India’s non-proliferation credentials and build up a strong case for it as the country seeks an entry into the 48-member NSG. The government also recently approved SCOMET (Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment, and Technologies) items, mandatory under the Wassernaar Arrangement.
Through the revised list of items, India also seeks to send a message about its larger commitment to non- proliferation. Twenty-eight states are common members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Agreement and the NSG — the four non-proliferation groups. India is a member of the 35-member MTCR, which it joined last year. Membership in Wassenaar and Australia Group would give India a chance for a closer interaction with member- states and also hold up its credentials, despite not being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Membership to these groups is by consensus, as in the NSG.
Indian had applied for NSG membership last year, but its bid is primarily being blocked by China, which maintains that the signing the NPT is a prerequisite for entry into the bloc. Neither China nor Pakistan is a member of either of the two groups.
Rakesh Sood, a former special envoy of the Prime Minister for disarmament and non-proliferation, said India had been working with these export control regimes. A team from the 41-nation Wassenaar Arrangement had visited New Delhi early this year, he said. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of nuclear and space initiative at the Observer Research Foundation, said entry into the Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group would help remove “scepticism” about India’s NSG bid among some nations, which are still on the “edge”.
“India’s membership to the NSG still looks very uncertain at this point of time due to the stiff opposition from China. In the meantime, its membership in other groups will give India additional opportunities to interact with the countries who are members of all four non-proliferation groups,” she said.