Ignored Dimensions Of India’s MTCR Membership


India joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) on June 9, 2016 prior to the formal plenary held in Busan (South Korea) on October 17-21, 2016 primarily thanks to the assistance of Russia. As such, India immediately decided to benefit from its entry into the group by deciding on to the enhancement of the range of its supersonic cruise missiles beyond their previously known limit.

Despite the fact that India is heading towards the 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).

India and Russia have agreed to extend the range of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles beyond the current 300 km. The proposal to increase the range has been under consideration for a long time, but it is now formalized after India became a MTCR member this year. It has also been mentioned in the Indian press that only minor changes will be enough to extend the range of BrahMos missiles 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 very bluntly welcomed India’s entry into the MTCR group. Russia itself believes that it is a key anti-proliferating member of the group. The membership for India has definitely eased 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. As such India now has the license to increase the range of its missile jointly with Russia.

This joint step by India and Russia is an offensive move that points towards Pakistan, as it was very difficult for the BrahMos with just a 300 km range to target inside Pakistan. After enhancing the range the missile will be able hit anywhere inside Pakistan, and thus has vast regional implications. Indeed, this could be worrisome not only for Pakistan, but also for China.

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 and offensive mode of the Indian mind making. A greater range for the 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 as India is doing this right after gaining MTCR membership, one has to wonder what it would do if its dream comes true of obtaining NSG membership. Such membership would, for sure, lead the way for India to enhance 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 on the country being an active member of the group, but it could not stall India’s membership to the MTCR seeing that China is not a member. Nevertheless, India is undoubtedly spending more and more in developing its tremendous firepower and strike capabilities. This is alarming for the world in general and the region in particular.

Beenish Altaf

Beenish Altaf works for the Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad and be reached at [email protected]. Ms. Beenish Altaf holds masters degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

5 thoughts on “Ignored Dimensions Of India’s MTCR Membership

  • December 31, 2016 at 3:58 am

    Good Satire by Ms.Beenish…

  • December 31, 2016 at 6:13 am

    I am still surprised with the International community for not branding Pakistan as a Terrorist country. Their short sighted policies has only made Pakistan bold and dangerous for the world peace.

  • December 31, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Well written piece Beenish. Good to get perspective from Pakistan. Three quick rebuts/queries/remarks:

    1. MTCR’s objective is curbing horizontal proliferation of missile technology (etc.). Improvisation of existing technology kept among those already in possession of the technology should not affect that objective. If India was to supply these missile systems to countries that do not have them, then that would be a case that MTCR might get concerned about. I therefore do not see any issue between India joining MTCR and it working with another MTCR member in upgrading the existing technology.

    2. How would you consider India’s striking capability prior to the Brahmos upgrade? Does this upgrade make really that big a difference?

    3. My perspective from New Delhi is that India would like to go up in global supply chains of these technologies and that is why it is investing in projects like the upgrade of Brahmos. That it would like to become a legit supplier is the reason why it is willing to put its supply plans to international scrutiny by having joined the MTCR. While there are statements that are alarmists on both sides, it could be useful to consider other and better-reasoned objectives for any development such as this. Yes, it applies both ways. Otherwise, we will be stuck with the security dilemma.

  • December 31, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    A Pakistani analyst writing about India and just telling the truth is not possible. MTCR restrictions aside, Pakistan acquired all missile technology secretly from China. Now they claim that their missiles are superior to india’s home grown stuff. Whatever they claim their’s is not their’s at all, in fact it is Chinese. Irony is that Chinese missiles are also a bit doubtful and inaccurate because technology has been copied from US.

  • January 1, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Author seems to be misguided of the purpose of such international groups. Their aim is to restrict lethal technology to handful of cooperative nations. India already has 10 times the military capability of Pakistan, so inclusion into these groups isn’t militarily motivated for India at all.
    India wants access to technology, to learn, develop & contribute towards this technological progress and not to be left out. MTCR will be helpful for boosting India’s space programme as well. Also trading in technological knowhow is an equally important aspect for India, since India conducts extensive research in these fields. India is responsible enough to always stick by the MTCR guidelines and avoid proliferating non-MTCR countries with beyond 300 km range missiles.
    India has already proven that its NSG aspirations are purely civilian based and that it seeks to meet its populations energy demands through clean nuclear energy. India is the leading researcher on Thorium based reactions & publishes the most number of papers on it. India seeks to trade technological knowhow through NSG to further use nuclear technology to be used for peaceful purposes.

    Pakistan’s goals & aims are all primarily militaristic and it has little interest or contribution in scientific research or furthering technology in these areas. So Pakistan sticks out as a sore thumb as a hopeless nation with zero objectivity.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *