India joins elite missile control group MTCR

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi salutes while addressing a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol June 8, 2016 in Washington, DC.Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Mr Modi has praised India's entry into the MTCR

India has joined an exclusive club of countries controlling exports in missile technology.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar signed the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), aimed at preventing unchecked proliferation of missiles.

As an MTCR member, India will now have access to crucial missile technologies.

This came days after India suffered a setback in a bid to join a group that sets global rules for international trade in nuclear energy technology.

"India's entry into the regime [MTCR] as its 35th member would be mutually beneficial in the furtherance of international non-proliferation objectives," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

India's entry into the MTCR has come after years of diplomatic negotiations with its 34 members.

Correspondents say it will boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy initiatives, especially after Beijing reportedly stalled Delhi's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) last week.

China has said India should not become a member until it signs the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) - a key requirement for all NSG members.

But Beijing's application to join the MTCR is still pending and some analysts believe that India may use this as a bargaining chip in its NSG discussions with China.

India has said it would continue to discuss the NSG issue with China.

"This is going to be an important element of our discussion with China. We will continue to impress upon them that relationships move forward on the basis of mutual accommodation of each other's interests, concerns and priorities," foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said.

India signed a key civil nuclear deal with the US in 2008 which gave it some access to nuclear materials and technology.

But it has been pushing for a formal entry into elite groups like the NSG and MTCR which control the trade of nuclear material and technology.