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India marks presence as member at its first MTCR plenary

Nilova Roy Chaudhury, Published: November 2016
 

India marked its formal presence for the first time as a full time member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) at the group’s 30 th plenary session held in Busan (South Korea), from October 17 to 21, 2016.

India was inducted as a member of the key missile control and non-proliferation regime earlier this year, on June 9, and formally joined the group on June 27 in a formal ceremony in New Delhi. India is the 35 th member of the MTCR.

The MTCR aims to restrict proliferation of missiles, complete rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogramme payload for at least 300 kilometres, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

At the Busan plenary, “MTCR Partners warmly welcomed India as a new member to its first Plenary Meeting”, the MTCR press release stated.

Amandeep Singh Gill, Joint Secretary (Disarmament) in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, represented the country at the plenary week deliberations.

“India’s entry into the regime as its thirty-fifth member would be mutually beneficial in the furtherance of international non-proliferation objectives,” the MEA stated.

India has sought entry into all global non-proliferation regimes and intensified efforts at gaining membership of the MTCR, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement since it received a waiver at the NSG in 2008.

Members appealed to all states to support the non-proliferation aims of the Regime by observing its Guidelines and establishing appropriate national legislation and law enforcement mechanisms. Partners emphasized that observance of the MTCR Guidelines by as many states as possible would contribute substantially to limiting the risks of proliferation of delivery systems for WMD and to fostering international security.

China is not a member of the MTCR. A recent report by Project Alpha, established in 2011 with funding from the British government to counter illicit nuclear proliferation-related trade, states that China is the most important supplier of all forms of goods to Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes, and most procurements from China are “probably from unwitting private suppliers”.

“But, on a smaller scale, Chinese state and private entities continue to knowingly supply Pakistan’s strategic programmes with sensitive equipment,” the report said in a scathing indictment of Pakistan’s methods of subterfuge to advance its missile and nuclear technology programs and Beijing’s willing assistance of this clandestine, “dual-use” technology to Islamabad.

“China is not a member of the MTCR. Aligning ourselves into international practice on non proliferation has been a long-standing goal of our diplomacy,” Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said.

Sources have told India Strategic that a key Indian strategy within the MTCR is to isolate China which is playing a pivotal role in denying India’s entry into the NSG.

Sources also told India Strategic that India did raise the issue of Pakistan’s “flagrant violation of international norms” in proliferation of nuclear and missile materials at one of the MTCR Plenary’s closed door sessions.

The United States, which has actively assisted India’s membership efforts, welcomed India’s entry into the MCTR. State Department press office director Elizabeth Trudeau said India was admitted because it “demonstrated to all MCTR partners a sustained commitment to non-proliferation and it has a legally-based, effective exports control system.”

Mr. Ham Sang-wook, Director General for Non-proliferation and Nuclear Affairs in the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took over at Busan as the MTCR chair from Mr Piet de Klerk of the Netherlands, and will remain the MTCR Chair until the 2017 Plenary.

The main purpose of the Plenary Meeting in Busan was to review and evaluate the MTCR’s activities over the last 12 months and to intensify efforts to prevent the proliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Representatives of all member states gave detailed presentations about what their governments had done over the year to further MTCR guidelines. They reiterated their commitment to limit the risks of proliferation by controlling international transfers that can contribute to delivery systems for WMD.

There was a detailed exchange of information on missile proliferation developments since the last Plenary Meeting in Rotterdam.

“The Partners welcomed that the MTCR Guidelines and control lists in the Annex constitute an international best practices benchmark for controlling exports of missile-related items and technologies, and noted that these standards are increasingly adhered to by non-Partners and are included in some UN

Security Council resolutions,” the statement issued at the end of the plenary said. “Partners called on all states to exercise extreme vigilance to prevent the transfer of goods and technology which could contribute to WMD missile programs,” and ensure that they do not enter the wrong hands.

Proliferation of WMDs (nuclear, chemical and biological weapons) and their means of delivery constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security, as recognized in UN Security Council Resolution 1540.

MTCR Partners underlined that the MTCR guidelines are not designed to impede technological advancement and development, including space programs, as long as such activities could not contribute to delivery systems for WMDs.

The members expressed concern over global missile proliferation, particularly in ongoing missile programs in the Middle East (Iran), Northeast Asia (North Korea), and South Asia (Pakistan), which might fuel missile proliferation activities elsewhere. Extensive discussions were held on specific country issues including the DPRK and Iran.

India’s accession to the MTCR will see it further strengthen its own export controls and is seen as an enhanced commitment to non-proliferation. This will make it easier for fellow MTCR members to transfer technologies to India.

Particular attention has been on the United States, given India’s interest in items such as U.S. drones, though this is only one of a series of considerations that Washington and New Delhi have with respect to such transfers. It would also permit India and Russia to jointly look at exports of the BrahMos cruise missile.

The MTCR has 35 members: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

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