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U.S. Relaxes Rules on Sales of Armed Drones:

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

U.S. Relaxes Rules on Sales of Armed Drones:

Context:

The US administration has relaxed export restrictions on specific types of unmanned aerial systems, commonly known as drones, enabling U.S. defense contractors to sell more of their wares abroad.

Changes introduced:

Under a new policy, unmanned aerial systems that fly at speeds below 800 kph will no longer be subject to the “presumption of denial” that, in effect, blocked most international sales of drones such as the MQ-9 Reaper and the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

Implications:

So far, the U.S. government’s interpretation of the export controls under the Missile Technology Control Regime, or MTCR had led to a blanket denial of most countries’ requests to buy “category-1” systems capable of carrying 500-kilogram payloads for more than 300 kilometers.

  • Instead of having a “presumption of denial” for those drones, where export officials needed special circumstances to allow the sale of the drones, the new guidance would mean those officials would now consider proposed sales using the same criteria as they do for other military exports.

About MTCR:

It is an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries.

Objective: to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying greater than 500 kg payload for more than 300 km.
The regime was formed in 1987 by the G-7 industrialized countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States).

It is not a legally binding treaty on the members.

What is the purpose of the MTCR?

The MTCR was initiated by like-minded countries to address the increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons by addressing the most destabilizing delivery system for such weapons.

In 1992, the MTCR’s original focus on missiles for nuclear weapons delivery was extended to a focus on the proliferation of missiles for the delivery of all types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), i.e., nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Such proliferation has been identified as a threat to international peace and security.

India and the  MTCR:

India was inducted into the Missile Technology Control Regime in 2016 as the 35thmember.

China is not a member of this regime but it had verbally pledged to adhere to its original guidelines but not to the subsequent additions.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. MTCR- objectives and members.
  2. Is India a part of MTCR?
  3. MTCR was formed by?
  4. Objectives.
  5. Banned weapons under the regime.

Sources: the Hindu.