What is Wassenaar Arrangement?
The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, commonly known as the Wassenaar Arrangement is a multilateral export control regime (MECR). It is elite club of countries subscribing arms controls similar to NSG and MTCR.
It was established in 1996 to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.
It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. It has 42 participating states including India. All permanent members of UN Security Council except China are its members. Participating states of WA, through their national policies, seek to ensure that transfers (export) of arms and ammunition in Control list of WA do not contribute to development or enhancement of military capabilities undermining regional security.
Every six months member countries of WA exchange information on deliveries of conventional arms to non-WA members that fall under eight broad weapons categories. These categories include battle tanks, military helicopters, armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), military aircraft, large-caliber artillery, warships, missiles or missile systems, and small arms and light weapons.
India as member of Wassennar Arrangement
Since its civil nuclear deal with US, India has been trying to get into export control regimes such as Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement that regulate the conventional, nuclear, biological and chemicals weapons and technologies. In June 2016, India had joined Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), another key export control regime, as a full member. In December 2017, India has become 42nd member of Wassennar Arrangement.
India’s membership to WA will provide it access to high technology, which will help address the demands of Indian space and defence sectors. This will help India to enhance its credentials in the field of non-proliferation despite not being signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The WA membership is also expected to build up strong case for India’s entry into the 48-member NSG. Further, it will help energy starved India to secure the supply of nuclear fuel more easily, since it has low reserves of uranium required for its civil nuclear energy programmes.
It will also facilitate high technology tie-ups with Indian industry and ease access to high-tech items for our defence and space programmes. It will also create grounds for realignment of India in export control policy framework of other WA members, including eligibility for certain licensing exceptions.