Wassenaar Arrangement plenary ends in Vienna, agrees to admit India

Russia deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov

India has become a member of the arms control regime Wassenaar Arrangement, which may allow it better access to latest technologies and trade practices.

It joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June previous year, but China has stalled India's entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which controls access to critical nuclear knowhow. China has favoured a criteria-based approach for expansion of the 48-member group, which controls worldwide nuclear commerce.

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on Wednesday discussed India's entry into the Wassenaar Arrangement with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

On Thursday, the members of the Wassenaar Arrangement, during their two-day plenary meeting in Vienna, made a decision to admit India. Through the revised list of items, India also seeks to send a message about its larger commitment to non-proliferation.

China has been stridently opposing India's bid primarily on the grounds that New Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"The issue of India's membership has been more politicised than anything else and it is an unfortunate development".

Last year, India gained entry into the Missile Technologies Control Regime (MTCR), which paved way for it to get critical missile technologies and also export its missiles.

India's admission to the Wassenaar Arrangement was in part facilitated by China's nonparticipation in the Arrangement.

"Beijing has been maintaining that the NSG should first "explore" through "an open and transparent" process and reach agreement on a non-discriminatory formula" to deal with the issue of granting membership to the countries, which had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT.

India's membership in the Wassenaar Arrangement partly hinged on a lack of consensus, with Italy having objected to New Delhi's participation until the two countries repaired their bilateral relationship this year following a multiple-year spat over the fate of two Italian marines who killed two Indian fishermen in 2012.

In 2016, China opposed India's accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, frustrating New Delhi, which had invested considerable diplomatic capital into its membership campaign.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has admitted that Russian Federation was looking to build ties with Pakistan, a country he described as taking great interest in multilateral forums.

On Pakistan's entry to the NSG, Ryabkov said there is no prospect for any "unanimity" with respect to the Pakistani application.

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