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Ashish Mehta asked: What are the US’ interests in furthering India's candidature in the export control regimes?

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  • S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: The US first expressed its intention to support India’s candidature in the export control regimes (NSG, MTCR, Australia Group, Wassenaar Arrangement) during President Barack Obama’s November 2010 visit to New Delhi. The Joint Statement between President Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is instructive in this regard. The Statement noted that such a move would be ‘commensurate with India’s non-proliferation record and commitment to abide by multilateral export control standards’. It indicated that the move was part of efforts to expand cooperation between the two countries in ‘civil space, defence and other high-technology sectors’. The Joint Statement further indicated that the US wanted India to play a leadership role in promoting global non-proliferation objectives, to strengthen global export control framework, further transform bilateral export control regulations and policies as well as ‘realize the full potential of the strategic partnership between the two countries’.

    The process has however not been smooth given the consensus-based approach to get membership in these regimes and the case of countries like Pakistan and Israel (the other non-NPT members who are nuclear weapon states) which want similar treatment. It is, however, pertinent to note that while Pakistan has a poor proliferation record ranging from North Korea to Iran to the A.Q. Khan network, Israel is yet to acknowledge that it possesses nuclear weapons. China has also carried out nuclear commerce with Pakistan in contravention of the NSG guidelines.

    For an analysis of the issues surrounding India’s NSG membership, refer to the IDSA Issue Brief, “India and NSG: Approaches to Indian Membership”.