In what might potentially be a major boost in staking a claim for a Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership, India has now become part of the “Australia Group” which strives to check the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons.
Broadly speaking, the group works towards countering the spread of materials, equipment and technologies which could lead to the development or acquisition of Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) by either states or terrorist groups.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Government announced that it became the 43rd member of the Australia Group (AG), following the successful completion of the internal procedures. The Ministry of External Affairs as a result thanked each of the AG members for supporting India’s membership.
With this membership, India becomes part of a total of three export control groups, the two others being Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangement.
MCTR aims to restrict the proliferation of missiles, complete rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles which can carry a payload of 500 KG for a minimum distance of 300 KM. This restriction also applies to the systems which are intended to carry weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The induction into the MCTR meant that India could start buying high-end missile technology.
Waseenaar Arrangement is an arms export control group similar to MCTR and the NSG, which is composed of 42 members except China.
Incidentally in all the three export control groups, China is absent as a member, which might be the reason why India has almost seamlessly become part of these groups. When it comes to the 48 member NSG, China has repeatedly opposed India’s entry by first demanding that India sign the Non-Nuclear-Proliferation treaty.
NSG is chiefly a multilateral export control regime (MECR), which seeks to prevent nuclear proliferation and basically controls the nuclear trade. If India manages to become a member of NSG, it would mean access to cutting edge technology from fields which vary from nuclear energy to medicine.
With India now successfully being part of three prominent export control groups, and the US too claiming that it is working closely with its international partners to secure India’s entry into the NSG, it remains to be seen whether China can be finally forced to forsake its opposition.