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‘Our impeccable non-proliferation record has been recognised’

India’s membership in the four global export control regimes will be mutually beneficial

Written by Ranjan Mathai |
April 21, 2012 3:13:19 am

India’s membership in the four global export control regimes will be mutually beneficial

Let me begin by addressing a simple but fundamental question. Why are export controls important for India?

We have for long recognised the challenge proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and their means of delivery poses for our national security and world order… as a state possessing advanced and sensitive materials and technology,we are conscious of the need for responsible handling of these sensitive items from the point of production or manufacture,to their use internally or export abroad and eventual safe and secure disposition. India has no interest in aiding or abetting proliferation of WMDs… On the contrary,we view a strong and effective national export control system as an essential link between our broader national security goals and our wider foreign policy objectives… Export controls are essential for the pursuit of growth and national development by harnessing the benefits of globalisation. Export control standards are increasingly the norm for global trade in sensitive material,equipment and technology and thus necessary if we are to increase the quantum of high technology items in our external trade and commercial exchanges… Our export control system would add to the reliability and credibility of Indian companies in the global market,and thus increase their competitive edge… That export controls are an added burden on industry is a mistaken and short-sighted notion.

India has a law-based export system covering about nine different legislations. I will mention only the most important: the Foreign Trade Development and Regulation Act,1992,the Atomic Energy Act,1962,the Customs Act,1962 and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act,2005. Systematic dual-use control lists in India were first notified in 1995 and were named as SMET — Special Material,Equipment and Technology,published under our foreign trade act. This list has subsequently been revised in 1999,2005 and 2007 and is widely known as SCOMET — Special Chemicals,Organisms,Material,Equipment and Technology.

Our WMD Act,2005 incorporated into national legislation key international standards in export controls,covering technology transfers,end-user or “catch-all” controls,brokering,trans-shipment and transit controls. In 2010,these changes were translated into our foreign trade act… Second,the harmonisation of SCOMET controls with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines and annexes was notified in 2008. Our export controls are thus in line with the highest international standards… Third,our regulatory framework is updated regularly… Fourth,we have increased engagement with various countries and our participation in international and regional export control seminars and conferences. This engagement includes the four multilateral export control regimes.

In terms of implementation,an inter-ministerial working group coordinated by the directorate general of foreign trade administers the SCOMET regulations… It is true that any export control system is as good as its enforcement on the ground. Our national enforcement mechanisms cover prevention,detection and penalisation of unauthorised exports… These activities are coordinated through an inter-agency core group.

Let me return to the international aspects of export controls. India shares global non-proliferation objectives and supports strengthening the non-proliferation regime. Since 2002,we have been piloting a UN First Committee resolution… We supported the extension of the mandate of the 1540 committee pursuant to UNSC resolution 1540… India has contributed to the success of the Nuclear Security Summit process… (and) has joined the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism… India has also participated in the preparatory process for negotiating an arms trade treaty at the UN.

India’s impeccable non-proliferation record has been widely recognised and was reflected in the milestone NSG decision of September 2008 on civil nuclear cooperation with India. With respect to India’s implementation of the statement on civil nuclear cooperation… India concluded the safeguards agreement with (the) IAEA… An additional protocol was also approved by the board of governors… With respect to implementation of the separation plan,we have already put 12 out of 14 reactors under IAEA Safeguards… (we have) adhered to NSG and MTCR guidelines and will maintain adherence. India has continued with its policy of refraining from transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not possess them and supporting international efforts to limit their spread… India has a long-standing commitment to complete,universal,non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons in a time-bound manner… We remain committed to a voluntary and unilateral moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.

In November 2010,India expressed interest in taking forward this engagement with the international community to the next phase of seeking membership of the four export control regimes — NSG,MTCR,Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement. We are aware that there are regime specificities… But at the same time,there are underlying objectives and principles which are common to all the regimes to which India subscribes to fully… We believe that India’s membership of the four regimes will be mutually beneficial on grounds of common non-proliferation objectives.

Excerpted from a speech delivered at the National Export Control Seminar organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses on April 18.The writer is foreign secretary

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