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Wassenaar Arrangement decides to make India its member

The decision was taken at the two-day plenary meeting of the grouping in Vienna. In a significant development, elite export control regime Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) on Thursday (7Dec 2017) decided to admit India as its new member, which is expected to raise New Delhi’s stature in the field of non-proliferation besides helping it acquire critical technologies.

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, the grouping said in a statement.

Image : Member states The decision was taken at the two-day plenary meeting of the grouping in Vienna.

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).
French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler congratulated India on “joining” the Wassenaar Arrangement.

“One more recognition, after MTCR, of the growing role India plays in today’s world,” he said.

Will India be benefited from the entry in elite export control regime?

The answer is a big YES.

The WA membership is 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.

The Wassenaar Arrangement plays a significant role in promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies.

Background –

To boost export of defense equipment, India has amended the Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment, and Technologies (SCOMET) rules to align itself according to world’s two most important multilateral export control regimes, namely the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group.

The SCOMET list includes those goods and technology which can be used for both civil and military applications and need government authorization for exporting out of the country. India’s Ministry of Commerce & Industry notified changes in the SCOMET from time to time in order to implement obligations in the field of non-proliferation.

“A significant number of changes to SCOMET have been carried out to adopt the regulations and lists of the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group, two multilateral export control regimes that India wishes to join,” a release sent by India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said.

Countries that wish to become a member of multilateral export control regimes need to ensure that exports are not accessed by proliferators, terrorist groups and non-state actors.

The updated list includes 16 broad categories of products which need approval from India’s Department of Defense Production. The new Category 8 of SCOMET is, ‘Special materials and related equipment, material processing, electronics, computers, telecommunications, information security, sensors and lasers, navigation and avionics, marine, aerospace and propulsion’.

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. The aim is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.

In June last year, India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), another key export control regime, as a full member and has also applied for joining Australia group — another export control regime. India’s export controls are in line with the Wassenaar Arrangement, one of the four non- proliferation regimes that prohibit the export of items of dual-use technology. In April the government came out with a Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment and Technologies (SCOMET) list.

Since its civil nuclear deal with the U.S., 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.

What is Wassenaar Agreement?

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, commonly known as the Wassenaar Arrangement, is a multilateral export control regime (MECR) with 42 participating states including many former Comecon (Warsaw Pact) countries.

The Wassenaar Arrangement was established to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations. Participating states seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.

It is the successor to the Cold War-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls, and was established on 12 July 1996, in Wassenaar, the Netherlands, which is near The Hague. The Wassenaar Arrangement is considerably less strict than COCOM, focusing primarily on the transparency of national export control regimes and not granting veto power to individual members over organizational decisions. A Secretariat for administering the agreement is located in Vienna, Austria. Like COCOM, however, it is not a treaty, and therefore is not legally binding.

Every six months member countries exchange information on deliveries of conventional arms to non-Wassenaar members that fall under eight broad weapons categories: battle tanks, armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), large-caliber artillery, military aircraft, military helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems, and small arms and light weapons.

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