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India joins exclusive missile tech club controlling global sale

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar signed onto the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) meant for controlling the unchecked proliferation of missiles and their delivery systems.

The Indian foreign ministry also thanked the remaining 34 members of the MTCR for supporting India’s inclusion, in a statement released after signing the accession papers.

“India’s entry into the regime as its thirty-fifth member would be mutually beneficial in the furtherance of international non-proliferation objectives,” the statement said.

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The MTCR member countries agreed to include, in a win for the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he met the US President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

Diplomats with direct knowledge of the matter said a deadline for members of the 34-nation group to object to India’s admission expired on Monday without any members raising objections.

Under this ‘silent procedure,’ India’s admission follows automatically, diplomats from four MTCR member nations said on condition of anonymity.

A senior official of the US State Department told Reuters this step would allow India to become a formal member of the missile regime “in the near future.”

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Admission to the MTCR would open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology, making more realistic its aspiration to buy surveillance drones such as the US Predator, made by privately held General Atomics.

Membership of the MTCR would require India to comply with rules such as a maximum missile range of 300 km (186 miles) that seek to prevent arms races from developing.

Italy had objected to admitting India, but after an unrelated bilateral dispute was resolved, did not object this time within a 10-day deadline after the group’s chair, the Netherlands, wrote to members suggesting India be welcomed.

An Italian marine, held for four years at the country’s embassy in New Delhi over the killing of two Indian fishermen in an anti-piracy operation in 2012, was recently allowed to return home.

The MTCR is one of four international non-proliferation regimes that India, which in recent decades has gone from being a non-aligned outsider to a rising nuclear-weapons power, has been excluded from.

No formal meeting is required for India to complete its entry into the group, set up in 1987 to limit the spread of unmanned systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

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