One Step Closer To NSG: India Becomes Member Of Wassenaar Arrangement
India was admitted as the 42nd member of the Wassenaar Arrangement in the two-day plenary held at Vienna, Austria. Wassenaar is a city located in the Netherlands and it was here in 1996 that it was decided to form an export control association on the lines of Cold War era “Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls.” Although it is not a legally binding treaty, Wassenaar Arrangement has continued its efforts to contribute to international and regional security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in the transfer of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilising accumulations.
In a statement issued by the plenary chair, they said, “Confirming that the WA’s existing membership criteria continue to apply, WA 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.”
This is another success of our Foreign Policy and the French Ambassador to India, Alexandre Ziegler, tweeted his congratulations.
What it means for India?
After India’s Pokhran- II Nuclear test in 1998, we faced sanctions from the global community as we were not a signatory to Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) or The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and neither a member of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG, which interestingly was set up in 1974 in response to India’s first nuclear test). Over the years, our adherence to non-proliferation and peaceful use of civil nuclear technology started shifting the stance of world powers. The biggest break came in the form of US 123 Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2005 and consequent NSG waiver in 2008 which meant that India can pursue its civilian nuclear projects.
In the last decade, India has strengthened its position not only as a regional power but also as a global power player. In today’s multilateral world, informal or formal groups and conventions act as grease behind the scenes. Our emphasis on security and stability, non-proliferation of arms and peaceful use can be seen in our quest of becoming a member in the four non-proliferation groups which are Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Agreement and the NSG. Admission is by consensus and 28 states are common members of all four.
Since last year, when China put a roadblock in our formal bid to become an NSG member, we have successfully joined the MTCR and the Wassenaar Arrangement and we have the backing of USA to join the Australia Group which is related to export control of chemical and biological weapons. The NSG issue is stuck due to China’s insistence that India should clear all criterion, including signing the NPT. However, it is to be noted that China is not technically a member of MTCR, Wassenaar or Australia group and when it had joined NSG it did not fulfil all criteria itself.
As reported in livemint, 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.