Just a day after it was denied the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, India on Monday joined an exclusive club of countries controlling exports in missile technology.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar signed onto the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) aimed at preventing the unchecked proliferation of missiles and their delivery systems, the Associated Press reported.
“India’s entry into the regime as its thirty-fifth member would be mutually beneficial in the furtherance of international non-proliferation objectives,” read a foreign ministry statement issued after signing the accession document in presence of the ambassadors of France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The foreign ministry also thanked the other 34 members of the MTCR group for supporting New Delhi’s inclusion.
Admission in the MTCR is being seen as the next step for India in legitimising its nuclear energy and missile programmes after it conducted atomic tests in 1998 that alarmed the international community.
The MTCR restricts the proliferation of missiles, rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles, or drones, and the technology for systems capable of carrying a payload of 500kg for at least 300km, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction.
Last week, at a plenary meeting of the nuclear group in Seoul, India’s membership to the 48-nation group that controls access to sensitive nuclear technology was shot down after China raised procedural hurdles.
India, still smarting over being denied entry, on Sunday hit out at Beijing, saying the issue of its membership of the nuclear group was not going to go away.
External Affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said New Delhi had taken up the issue with Beijing at multiple levels.
“We are going to continue discussing this with China. This is going to be an important element of our discussion with China. We will continue to impress upon them that relationships move forward on the basis of mutual accommodation of each other’s interests, concerns and priorities,” Swarup told reporters in New Delhi.
China is not a member of the MTCR, however. Beijing’s application to join the MTCR is pending, leading to some analysts in New Delhi saying India could use it as a bargaining chip to leverage its entry into the nuclear group.