Security Scan: Wassenaar Arrangement – Implications
In a significant victory for its non-proliferation track record, India has recently gained a step ahead in its elite export control regime becoming the 42nd member of the Wassenaar Arrangement. It can also be expected to be an important case for entry of India into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG).
- Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies is one of the four Multilateral Export Control Regime (MECR). A MECR is an international body used to organise a state’s export control systems (trade barrier). Other 3 MECR are:
- The Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG) for the control of nuclear related technology,
- Australia Group (AG) for control of chemical and biological technology that could be weaponized and,
- The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) for the control of rockets and other aerial vehicles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.
- Wassenaar Arrangement was established on 12 July 1996 becoming a successor to the Cold War era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom). The Arrangement which is not a treaty includes exchange of information by member countries in total eight broad weapons categories like battle tanks, military aircrafts, warships, etc.
- After World War II, western countries led by the US wanted to restrict any sensitive technology going towards Soviet Union and its allies. By the end of the Cold War, Soviet Union broke up and threat perceptions underwent a fundamental change post 1990. The threat of perception of sensitive material and dual use technology was seen as a major threat. So, CoCom got a reincarnation as Wassenaar Arrangement with Russia and many of East European countries as also its members.
- Dual use technology can be used for both peaceful and military aims. The US and Russia had spent billions of dollars developing rocket technology which could carry humans into space. This paralleled the development of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Technology.
- India joining the Wassenaar Arrangement implies that India is also recognised to have dual use technology. There is exchange of notes when countries meet in such arrangements. So, India will gain access to high technology which will help to address the demands of its defence & space sectors.
- Earlier India was seen as a target by regimes like MTCR and NSG. ISRO and DRDO had restrictions imposed on them when India was acquiring cryogenic technology from Soviet Union. India’s nuclear program was targeted and cooperation was denied by NSG. However, after the nuclear test of 1998 there was a shift in India’s position.
- India has become a part of MTCR in 2016 and had also got some waiver by NSG countries in 2008, though not its permanent member yet. Due to opposition from China, India’s entry into the NSG is not quite easy in near future. It is relatively easy for India to become a part of the Australia Group of which China is not a member.
India is now getting a recognition on the global platform which can be seen by recent MTCR entry, International Court of Justice elections and now the Wassenaar Arrangement. It is a step forward for being recognised as a responsible nuclear power. But whether India can be a part of Nuclear Suppliers Group is still a question due to the China’s opposition.