India admitted to Australia Group

India today formally became a member of the 42-member Australia Group, which is working to counter the threat of development and acquisition of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) and technologies, even as membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) continued to elude the country.

The Australia Group, an informal grouping, is the third multilateral export control group that has accepted India as a member after the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangement that deals with conventional arms and duel technology products.

India's application to the NSG has been pending largely due to opposition from China.

Incidentally, China is not a member of neither the Australia Group, nor the MTCR.

''There was very strong support expressed for India's membership at the 26-30 June 2017 Australia Group Plenary, after which consensus was reached intersessionally.  India then reaffirmed its intention to join the Group.

''In warmly welcoming India to the Group, the other Australia Group members recognised the Government of India's commitment to bring India's export control system into alignment with the Australia Group and India's determination to contribute to the global effort to prevent the proliferation of CBW in the security interests of all members of the international community,'' the Australia group stated in a release.

India's external affairs ministry said India's entry into the Group would be mutually beneficial and would contribute further to international security and non-proliferation objectives, adding ''India's law-based export control system enables the Government of India to implement the obligations arising from the Australia Group's Guidelines and Common Control Lists, including its reporting requirements, information exchange and principles.''

''With its admission into the AG, India has demonstrated the will to implement rigorous controls of high standards in international trade, and its capacity to adapt its national regulatory system to meet the necessities of its expanding economy. India is also aware of the need to constantly adapt its export controls in the face of rapidly evolving scientific and technological challenges, and in this regard, affirmed its readiness to act in close cooperation with all members towards the furtherance of Australia Group objectives.''

The other Australia Group members are, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Republic of Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Stating that India remains engaged with other countries over application to join the NSG, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, ''We hope that our credentials are taken into account as and when a decision is taken (on NSG application)''.

India's application to the NSG has been pending largely due to opposition from China, which wants the group to first draw up guidelines for all the candidates who have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Pakistan has also applied to join the NSG, but has never been granted a waiver, unlike India, which was given one in 2008.

Indian ambassador to the United Nations conference on disarmament in Geneva, Amandeep Singh Gill, said that joining the Australia Group would also help in ''strengthening supply chain security in the dynamic industry fields of biotechnology and chemicals'', along with meeting non-proliferation objectives.