Washington: India is likely to enter the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) this week, a move that will boost the country’s efforts to purchase Predator drones from the US and export its missiles to friendly nations.

An announcement in this regard is anticipated as early as this week, possibly during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US at the invitation of American President Barack Obama, people with knowledge of the matter told PTI.

The major breakthrough comes days after India announced that it is subscribing to the Hague Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation, which is considered to be complementary to the MTCR.

India applied for MTCR membership last year. But it had been facing strong opposition from a few member countries of the MTCR where decisions are based on consensus.

The Obama administration has strongly backed India’s membership into MTCR and three other export control regime—Australia Group, Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Established in April 1987, the voluntary MTCR aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological and nuclear attacks.

The MTCR regime urges its 34 members, which include most of the world’s key missile manufacturers, to restrict their exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500kg payload at least 300km, or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.

Since 2008 India has been one of the five countries that are unilateral adherents to the MTCR. After MTCR’s announcement, India and the US are expected to fast track their discussion on the sale of Predator series aircraft for the Indian military.

“Yes, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. is aware of India’s interest in Predator series remotely piloted aircraft," Vivek Lall, chief executive of the US and International Strategic Development of General Atomics, the largest privately-held American defence company which designs and manufactures the Predator drones, had told PTI last December. PTI

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