India Monday joined an exclusive club of countries controlling exports in missile technology, just a day after bemoaning its exclusion from another elite group that governs international nuclear fuel and technology. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar signed onto the Missile Technology Control Regime aimed at preventing the unchecked proliferation of missiles and their delivery systems.
The foreign ministry, in a statement issued soon after signing the accession document in the presence of the ambassadors of France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, thanked the other 34 members of the MTCR group for supporting its inclusion. Admission in the MTCR was seen as the next step for India in legitimizing its nuclear energy and missile programs 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 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) for at least 300 kilometers (185 miles), as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction. In 2008, India signed a landmark civil nuclear deal with the United States giving it some access to nuclear materials and technologies.
Since then, India has been pushing for its inclusion in the various elite groups that control the export of nuclear materials and regulate technologies relating to conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. India still hopes to secure support for joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group, despite strong objections from China. 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 to say India could use it as a bargaining chip to leverage its entry into the nuclear group.