India clears final hurdle to join missile control group, say diplomats

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 07, 2016 9:10 AM

By Douglas Busvine

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The members of the Missile Technology Control Regime, a key anti-proliferation grouping, have agreed to admit India, diplomats said, in a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he meets President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday.

Diplomats with direct knowledge of the matter said a deadline for the members of the 34-nation group to object to India's admission had expired on Monday without any of them raising objections.

Under this so-called 'silent procedure', India's admission follows automatically, diplomats from four MTCR member nations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Admission to the MTCR would open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology, also making more realistic its aspiration to buy state-of-the-art surveillance drones such as the U.S. Predator.

India also makes a supersonic cruise missile, the Brahmos, in a joint venture with Russia that both hope to sell to third countries. Membership of the rules-based MTCR would require India to comply with rules - such as a maximum missile range of 300 km - that seek to prevent arms races from developing.

India's foreign ministry said before Modi departed on a five-country tour last weekend that the MTCR process was "looking good". Spokesman Vikas Swarup, who was traveling with Modi, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez)