Wassenaar Arrangement Agrees To Admit India As Its New Member: Here’s Why This Is Important

Wassenaar Arrangement Agrees To Admit India As Its New Member: Here’s Why This Is ImportantPresident Donald Trump chats with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the second day of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In a significant development, elite export control regime Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) has decided to admit India as its member, which is expected to raise New Delhi's stature in the field of non-proliferation besides helping it acquire critical technologies. The decision was taken at the two-day plenary meeting of the grouping in Vienna.

"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," the group said in a statement.

India's entry into the export control regime would enhance its credentials in the field of non-proliferation despite not being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The WA membership is also expected to build up a strong case for India's entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Significantly, China, which stonewalled India's entry into the 48-nation NSG, is not a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement. All decisions in the grouping are taken by consensus. Therefore, if China ever applies for the membership of the grouping, it would require India’s support.

India’s entry into the Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group would help remove "scepticism" about India's NSG bid, Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, senior fellow and head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation, said in July.

"India's membership to the NSG still looks very uncertain at this point of time due to the stiff opposition from China. 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 was quoted by the Economic Times as saying.

The Wassenaar Arrangement plays a significant role in promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. Its member countries are required to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals.

In June last year, India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), another key export control regime, as a full member.

Since its civil nuclear deal with the US, India has been trying to get into export control regimes such as the NSG, the MTCR, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement that regulate the conventional, nuclear, biological and chemicals weapons and technologies.

With inputs from PTI