India is yet to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) due to strong resistance from China. However, the South Asian nation has recently become the member of another elite club – Wassenaar Arrangement (WA). The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies is a Multilateral Export Control Regime (MECR), with 42 member states including many former Comecon (Warsaw Pact) countries. Significantly, China is not the member of this club.
Vijay Kumar Singh, the Minister of State of External Affairs, has told the Parliament: “The WA and the NSG are two distinct export control regimes. India remains engaged with all NSG members at the relevant levels in the context of its application for membership.”
According to sources close to the Ministry of External Affairs, India can gain a lot from this membership. The membership will make it easier for New Delhi to join the NSG, as India can use this platform to oppose nuclear proliferation. Secondly, India can export nuclear reactors to member countries of the WA without any adverse international reactions. And most importantly, India can get the access to international nuclear technology.
As expected, China is trying to portray the development as a ‘minor’ issue, saying that the WA membership wouldn’t help India get the NSG membership. Senior spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Lu Kang said in a statement: “We have noted the report. I understand that different multilateral mechanisms have different roles and different criteria for accepting new members.”
Lu met the press in Beijing after the grouping made a final decision regarding India’s membership at its two-day plenary meeting in Vienna in the third week of March. In a statement, the WA stated: “Wassenaar Arrangement participating states reviewed the progress of a number of current membership applications and agreed at the plenary meeting to admit India which will become the Arrangement’s 42nd participating state as soon as the necessary procedural arrangements for joining the WA are completed.”
A top WA official is of the opinion that India’s entry into the export control regime will certainly boost its credentials in the field of non-proliferation, despite not being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
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