India seeks full membership of nuclear control regimes

New Delhi: Indian foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, will lead her country's bid for full membership in the four international nuclear export control regimes - the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Group.

With the NSG increasingly asserting itself in all nuclear related matters, government officials feel it was important for India, as a major player in the nuclear field to be part of the organisation. Observers feel that obtaining NSG membership may prove to be the most difficult for India given its close association with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, asn obligation that India refuses to be part of.

India adheres to NSG and MTCR guidelines but does not have a direct say in deciding on changes in norms as it is not a full member.

As part of its efforts India has secured summit-level support from the United States, Russia and France. The support of these countries is expected to provide the initial momentum for its bid for full membership of this international nuclear cartel.

India is also hopeful of support from other member nations that are part of these four nuclear control bodies, as they are appreciative of its impeccable non-proliferation record and mindful of the weightage that India will provide the non-proliferation regime through its association.

Secretary Rao was due to address representatives of the 45-member NSG on 28 March in Vienna, but the interaction has been pushed back to a later date because of earlier commitments.