Story Of The Week

Wassenaar Arrangement

Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism

– George Washington


On 7 December 2017, India got the entry to the Export Control Regime called Wassenaar Arrangement (WA). This is a significant development for India as it can help us acquire critical technologies. It could also pave the way for our entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

For two years, India was trying to be part of this arrangement, but it was being blocked by Italy because of the weakening of our bilateral ties. However, following the visit by the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in October, there was an improvement in bilateral relations and India got admitted to the Arrangement.

India’s addition to the WA was also partly facilitated by the fact that China is not currently a member of the Arrangement.


So what is Wassenaar Arrangement?

As per the official Wassenaar Arrangement website, it states the arrangement as:

“The Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), the first global multilateral arrangement on export controls for conventional weapons and sensitive dual-use goods and technologies.

The WA was designed to promote transparency, exchange of views and information and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilizing accumulations.”

Simply put, The Wassenaar Arrangement is a multinational arrangement amongst 42 countries, which was made to increase international stability and security by regulating the transfer of weapons, arms and dual-use technologies between nations.



Dual use technologies – These are expensive technologies that can be used not only for civilian use but also for military purposes. For example Global Positioning System(GPS). Another example is Nuclear technology, which could be harnessed for power and could also potentially be used by the military for nuclear weapons.

The flow of information regarding these powerful technologies needs to be kept in check so that they don’t get into the wrong hands.

The WA members exchange information related to the purchase of these goods and technologies by the non-participating nations. By promoting more transparency and cooperation, the member countries ensure that the transfer of such information does not lead to any development of the military capabilities of that nation and is not a cause of concern for other nations.



The arrangement came into existence in 1995 in a suburb, Wassenaar in Netherlands and became operational in 1996, with 33 founding members. It was a successor to the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export control (CoCom) which was a similar, more strict, control arrangement formed after the Cold War for arms movement across nations.



Participating nations of Wassenaar Arrangement: Wikipedia


Multilateral Export Control Regimes (MECR)

MECR –  is an international body which countries can use to set their export control programs. They establish guidelines and control lists which is adhered to by most of the potential suppliers of goods and information.

The Wassenaar Arrangement is one of the four Multilateral Export Control Regimes (MECR)

In addition to the Wassenaar Arrangement, there are three other regimes:

Nuclear Suppliers Group(NSG)- is a group 48 member countries that aim to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons by controlling the export of raw materials, technology, and equipment that can be used for manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

Australia Group (AG)is a group 42 countries for keeping a check on exports that could lead to manufacturing of biological or chemical weapons

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) group of 35 countries formed to control the spread of missile technology or other aerial vehicles which could be used for delivering weapons of mass destruction.


How is it relevant to India?

India began its voyage of entering the Wassenaar Arrangement in 2014, by getting its Indian lists & munitions aligned with the Wassenaar Arrangement. The formal application for admission of India as a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement was made in 2016.

Since the civil nuclear deal that India signed with the US, India has been trying to be a member country of export control regimes, Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group & the Wassenaar Arrangement, that are established for the regulation of conventional nuclear, biological, chemical weapons & technology.

An enabler for the admission of India as a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement was the entry of India as a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime in June 2016.


The entry of India as a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement was a diplomatic success. The membership of India in both MTCR & Wassenaar Arrangement was cleared by 35 & 41 countries respectively. A major number of the countries who voted for India in both the Arrangements are part of the NSG, brightening India’s membership chances in NSG.

A disadvantage that stands for India for being a part of NSG was that of being a non-signatory at Non-Proliferation treaty. Wassenaar Arrangement can work as a booster for India’s entry in NSG.

It is to be noted that, China the country which stonewalled India’s entry in the 48 nations NSG, is not a member Wassenaar Arrangement. This gives India immense leverage of having a say if China applies for Wassenaar Arrangement membership, identical to China’s say on India’s application of NSG membership.


A non-proliferation treaty is an international treaty that promotes the peaceful use of nuclear technology & prevents the use of nuclear technology for nuclear weapons & nuclear technology.

India is not a signatory to the aforementioned treaty many of the member countries of the Non-Proliferation Treaty were constituted for targeting India. The international community termed these countries as “technology control regimes” but India viewed them as “technology denial regimes”.


India’s membership Wassenaar gives it access to various dual-use goods & technologies along with many conventional arms. This majorly includes a host of “intrusion software” that form a huge part of mass surveillance systems.

This is a boost for foreign defense companies that have been eyeing India for ten years, due to India’s multiple steps in enhancement in its internal security, as India aims at military upgradation and modernization.

The infusion of foreign technology for internal security has another perspective too. India has faced serious problems in the case of import of critical technologies relating to defense, space, and nuclear sector. This requires a strong cybersecurity defense wall to be built by India at earliest.


India’s entry to Wassenaar Arrangement is a landmark, in India’s pursuit of becoming a global power. It is another step, that gave India immense global recognition and respect. This Arrangement also provides an edge with the common foe, China.

India’s entry to the NSG may be accelerated by this Arrangement. India has also applied to be a part of the Australia Group.

The next meeting of Wassenaar Arrangement will be held in Vienna, Austria in December 2018, this will plan the future course of action for India in its global leader journey.



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