Wassenaar Arrangement plenary begins: After MTCR, regime one of three other export control regimes India hopes to enter


The two-day plenary session of the Wassenaar Arrangement regime commenced in Vienna on Thursday. One of the key export control regimes that deals with non-proliferation, the group is expected to look upon favourably on India’s candidature for membership.

Russia, France, Germany and the United States are strongly supporting India’s entry into the group, reports Deccan Herald. India’s case is further strengthened by the fact that China — which blocked New Delhi’s plea for admission into the NSG — is not a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Earlier in 2017, India approved SCOMET (Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment, and Technologies) items, mandatory under the Wassenaar Arrangement. Through the revised list of items, India also seeks to send a message about its larger commitment to non-proliferation.

India’s strong candidature was acknowledged on Wednesday by Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov who said that India is likely to get the membership if everything goes well at the plenary session. “If everything goes as expected, I keep my fingers crossed on Thursday we may see a decision of accepting India into the Wassenaar arrangement, which is also very important export control regime,” he said.

File image of a meeting of the Wassenaar Arrangement group. Image credit: Wassenaar.org

In May 2017, Germany had voiced its support for India’s membership when it said, “Germany welcomed India’s accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime. Germany also welcomed India’s intensified engagement with the other export control regimes — the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement — and expressed its support for India’s early accession to these regimes.”

The US had expressed its support for India in June 2017 when it had said, “As global non-proliferation partners, the United States expressed strong support for India’s early membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Australia Group.” In the same month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte and was assured of Netherlands’ support for India’s membership to the agreement.

The Wassenaar Agreement

The 41-member group was established in December 1995 and has since become a measure to coordinate and harmonise policies governing exports of arms, dual-use equipment and sensitive technologies, explained an article by the Observer Research Foundation. The regulations are implemented through two lists: the Munitions List which tracks conventional weapons, and the Dual-Use Goods and Technologies List. New members are accepted based on specific criteria, including countries which produce/export arms or associated dual-use goods and technologies; establish national policies that restrict sale of arms and sensitive technologies to countries of concern; and adhere to non-proliferation regimes.

The group also ensures that transfer risks are understood by all member states. This is done by regular exchange of information and reporting arms transfers/denials on a six-monthly basis. In some cases, shorter time-frames are applicable. While the decision to transfer or deny the transfer of any item is the sole responsibility of each State, the group has agreed to a number of guidelines, elements and procedures as a basis for decision-mak

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