New Delhi: The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is an informal, voluntary grouping of countries which aims to check the proliferation of missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

It is not a treaty and does not impose any legally binding obligations on its adherents and members.

A grouping of 35 countries, MTCR keeps a check on transfer of missiles and UAVs capable of carrying a payload of at least 500kg over a range of at least 300km. It also focuses on any equipment, software or technology that can enable a nation to produce such systems.

The group’s ability to achieve its objectives depends on it coordinating individual national export licensing policies towards a single, common export policy that regulates the sale of any such systems or sub-systems.

MTCR maintains a common list of items, including dual-use technology and components, which can be used to deliver WMDs or enable the manufacture of systems which can be deployed to deliver WMDs.

India’s gains 

1. Once India puts in place an appropriate export policy for items covered by the MTCR, an argument can be made that the sale of any such systems to India will not lead to any further proliferation.

2. Gaining MTCR membership will allow India to sell the BrahMos missiles, which it manufactures jointly with Russia, to countries like Vietnam. The operational range of the missile is just under the 300km threshold that the regime primarily concerns itself with.

3. During the Cold War, India was denied cryogenic engine technology. Now, the Indian Space Research Organisation will have access to restricted high-end technologies for developing its cryogenic engines in order to enhance space exploration.

4. India can now procure technologies to develop its indigenous Ballistic Missile System or missile shield to protect itself from incoming ballistic missiles.

5. India can also source surveillance drones from countries like the US.

6. In a boost to Make in India, Indian technology developed under the initiative will enjoy free movement out of the country, which in turn will contribute to the success of the programme.

7. Now that India is part of MTCR, it can oppose the entry of China and Pakistan should they apply for membership.