MTCR, NSG and Other Global Initiatives against WMD & India's Stance

India recently signed the Hague Code of Conduct (HCoC) against Ballistic Missile Proliferation and also applied for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership. Against this backdrop, we present a list of major global agreements, conventions and export control regimes that regulate various types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related technologies.

Created On: Jun 10, 2016 18:45 ISTModified On: Jun 14, 2016 12:13 IST

India on 1 June 2016 joined the Hague Code of Conduct (HCoC) against Ballistic Missile Proliferation as its 138th subscribing state. India joined it by notifying HCoC Central Contact, Vienna, through diplomatic channels.

India’s joining the Code signals its readiness to further strengthen global non-proliferation objectives. Its subscription reinforces its support for international missile non-proliferation.

Earlier, on 12 May 2016, India formally applied for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership that culminated the process began more than a decade ago with the signing of the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement or 123 Agreement.

Against this backdrop, we present a list of major global agreements, conventions and export control regimes that regulate and control various types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related technologies.


Objectives & Features

India’s Stance

Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG)


  • Group of nuclear supplier countries based on Non-Proliferation Principle
  • Mandate is to regulate nuclear exports & nuclear-related exports
  • Set up in 1974 as a response to Indian nuclear test
  • Being a signatory of NPT is an important criteria to join the elite club
  • Has 48 members including P5 of the UNSC



  • Applied for membership in May 2016
  • Sought exemption from NPT on grounds of clean track-record
  • India’s pledge of “no-first-use” policy will help in getting membership
  • Got support from all major members; China poses hurdle
  • Membership helps in lucrative global nuclear trade
  • Will get access to sensitive nuclear material & technologies
  • Big boost to domestic industries & clean energy initiatives

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

  • An informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries
  • Set up in 1987 by the G7 countries
  • Aims to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology
  • Focus on those that carry minimum payload of 500 kg & minimum of 300 km
  • Not a treaty and does not impose legally binding obligations on member
  • Has 34 members & China is not a member



  • Applied for membership but denied membership in October 2015
  • Major countries supported but Italy was reluctant (“due to rift on Marine case”)
  • Membership helps India in curbing global missile proliferation threat
  • More of strategic concern and no additional benefit in terms of trade
  • Because the group has no restrictions on trade with non-members

Wassenaar Arrangement


  • Set up in 1995 in Wassenaar (the Netherlands) & operation in 1996
  • Focus is on conventional arms & dual-use goods and technologies
  • Seeks to achieve peace and security through export controls
  • Has a 4-point criterion for membership
  • 41 members including the USA and Russia



  • Interested in joining this export control regime
  • Meets 3 of the four conditions needed to join
  • They are – Producer of arms; Adherence to non-proliferation policies
  • Third - Fully effective export controls (announced a list of 16 in August 2015)
  • Fourth - Yet to comply with SCOMET list criteria
  • Benefits – participation in trade and Play key role in deciding export regulations

Australia Group


  • Informal group set up in 1985
  • As a response to Iraq’s use of chemical weapons in 1984
  • To control the export of chemical and biological weapons
  • Key role in the conclusion of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1997
  • Willing to join the group with the USA’s backing
  • Ratified the CWC and set up a national authority in 2000
  • With membership, gets a chance in deciding export items list

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)


  • To prevent the spread of nuclear weapons & weapons technology
  • Binding treaty and came into force in 1970 for 25 years
  • In 1995 extended indefinitely; Joined by 195 parties so far
  • Two categories Nuclear Weapon States (NWS), which are also P5, & Non-NWS
  • NWS are those that conducted tests before 1 January 1967



  • Unwilling to sign the treaty as it is biased towards NWS
  • NPT discriminatory because it enables development of weapons only by NWS
  • India, Israel and Pakistan are the major non-signatories
  • Signing of NPT is crucial as it linked to membership in other control regimes

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)


  • Seeks to ban all nuclear explosions in all environments
  • Applicable to military as well as civilian purposes
  • Adopted by UN General Assembly in September 1996
  • Signed by 183 and ratified by 164
  • Not in force because not ratified by all 44 Annex II countries including India
  • Not a signatory to the convention
  • Because the USA signed and not ratified so far
  • Other non-signatories: Pakistan, North Korea & Myanmar

Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

  • Legally binding treaty that outlaws biological arms
  • In force since 1975 & has 174 states-parties
  • Non-signatory States – Israel and many African nations

Ratified the convention and strongly committed to not to produce the biological weapons


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