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Ignored dimensions of India’s MTCR membership

By Beenish Altaf

India was induced in the MTCR on June 9, 2016 that was before the formal plenary held in Busan (South Korea) from 17-21 October 2016 that turned out mainly with the super assistance of Russia. So it immediately decided to benefit from its entry into the group by deciding on to the enhancement of the range of its supersonic cruise missile beyond its previously known limit.

Given that India is heading towards advancement of its missiles after joining the 34 nation group where, MTCR actually work to restrict the proliferation of missiles, complete rocket systems, unmanned air vehicles, and related technology for those systems capable of carrying a 500 kilogram payload at least 300 kilometres, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The missile India and Russia have agreed to extend the range is their Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles beyond the current 300 km. The proposal to increase the range of it was under consideration for a long time but it is now formalized after India became a member of Missile Technology Control Regime this year. It is also mentioned in the Indian press that only minor changes will be enough to extend the range of BrahMos up to 372 miles.

Brahmos, is a joint venture between the Russian Federation’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) who have together formed BrahMos Aerospace. The name BrahMos is a portmanteau formed from the names of two rivers, the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia. It is a short-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.

It needs to be taken into account that Russia has welcomed Indian entry into the 35 nation (now 35 states after Indian entry) group very bluntly. Russia itself believes that it is a key anti-proliferating member of the group. The membership to India has definitely ease space and missile collaboration with Russia, which could not supply cryogenic engines and other dual use technology missiles to India, because it was bound by MTCR norms. This is because of the fact that the MTCR guidelines prohibit its members from transfer, sale or joint production of missiles beyond 300-km range to countries outside the group however India is in now therefore, the first thing both the countries got is, the license to increase the range of its missile.

This joint step by India – Russia is taken far offensive and pointing towards Pakistan because Brahmos with 300 km range was very difficult to target inside Pakistan but after enhancing the range the missile can hit anywhere inside Pakistan. So it is having regional implications at large in this regard. It would be worrisome not only for Pakistan but for China too. An Indian military official stated at some point of discussion, that “our threat perceptions and security concerns are our own, and how we address these by deploying assets on our territory should be no one else’s concern.” The statement depicts the aggressive an offensive mode of Indian mind making. So, a greater range for Brahmos would imply that India’s power to strike would get an unprecedented fillip.

Last but not the least, it could be taken from the above that India is doing this after the MTCR membership just within days, what India will do if its dream comes true of getting NSG membership. It would, for sure, lead the way for enhancing its uranium reserves for military usage. Analytically, China stonewalled India’s entry into the NSG at the recent June Plenary as it has an impact being the active member of the group but could not stall India’s membership to the MTCR seeing that it is not a member. Nevertheless, India is undoubtedly spending day by day and more and more in developing its tremendous firepower and strike capabilities. This is alarming for the world in general and the region in particular.

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Beenish Altaf

Beenish Altaf works as Research Associate for Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad and can be reached at beenishaltaf7@gmail.com

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