India's application for NSG membership is pending following China's objection

by Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

NEW DELHI: In a major diplomatic victory, India on Friday became the 43rd member of the Australia Group (AG), the cooperative and voluntary group of countries working to counter the spread of materials, equipment and technologies that could contribute to the development or acquisition of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) by states or terrorist groups.

This is third of the four non-proliferation and export control groups that has accepted India's membership. Earlier in 2016, India was admitted as a member of MTCR and this was followed by membership to Wassenar Arrangement last year. India's application for NSG membership is pending following China's objection.

There was very strong support expressed for India's membership at the June 26-30, 2017, Australia Group Plenary meet, after which consensus was reached inter-sessionally. India then reaffirmed its intention to join the Group, according to officials aware of the matter.

In welcoming India to the Group, the other Australia Group members recognised India's commitment to bring India's export control system into alignment with the Australia Group and India's determination to contribute to the global effort to prevent the proliferation of Chemical and Biological Weapons in the security interests of all members of the international community, according to a press statement issued by the group secretariat.

In joining the Group, India said its entry into the Group would be mutually beneficial and would contribute further to international security and non-proliferation objectives; and, that India's law-based export control system enables the Government of India to implement the obligations arising from the Australia Group's Guidelines and Common Control Lists including its reporting requirements, information exchange and principles.

With its admission into the AG, India has demonstrated the will to implement rigorous controls of high standards in international trade, and its capacity to adapt its national regulatory system to meet the necessities of its expanding economy. India is also aware of the need to constantly adapt its export controls in the face of rapidly evolving scientific and technological challenges, and in this regard,affirmed its readiness to act in close cooperation with all members towards the furtherance of Australia Group objectives, according to the press statement.

The other Australia Group members are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the UK and US.