Wassenaar Arrangement is a multilateral export control regime of 42 countries that seeks to advance security and stability in the sale and transfer of materials and technologies that can be used to make nuclear and conventional weapons.
The group works by regularly exchanging information in respect of technology, both conventional and nuclear-capable, that is sold to, or denied to countries outside the grouping. This is done through maintenance and updating of detailed lists of chemicals, technologies, processes and products that are considered militarily significant.
India became a member of this grouping in 2017 and has now assumed the chairmanship. This has the following significance:
- 1. Can Bolster Anti-Terrorism Efforts: India would be in a position to steer discussions of the group to further strengthen the export controls to prevent arms diversion to terrorists or to sovereign nations supporting terrorism. The timing of India’s WA chairmanship coincides with a recent increase in country’s anti-terrorism position in international bodies. Indian home minister is presently the chair of the No Money for Terrorism (NMFT) ministerial initiative. Hence, this can be the beginning of a two pronged approach by India towards weeding out terrorism and fundamentalism.
- 2. Strong Anti-Proliferation Framework: Strengthening the licensing and enforcement practices under the WA and adoption of new export controls in areas like flight technology, interception technology and digital investigation tools will pave the way for the creation of a strong anti-proliferation framework for South Asia.
- 3. Democratization of space and Defense Technologies: It is also significant in the long run considering the recent spurt in investment and activity in the local defence and space sectors. India can play a significant role in democratising access to technologies and processes that can serve as crucial building blocks for the newly emerging defence and space manufacturing sectors in India. India is slowly emerging as a low-cost producer of several items in the WA’s control lists.
At the helm of the plenary, India’s chair-ship would go a long way in establishing the credibility of the country as a responsible stakeholder in the global non-proliferation architecture.