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India joins Australia Group

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NEW DELHI (PTI): India has gained entry into the Australia Group (AG), an important non-proliferation regime which seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.

After the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), the membership in another of the four major export control regimes is expected to give India a leg-up in its bid to secure a berth in the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, which has been blocked by China at the behest of Pakistan.

China is not a member of the MTCR, the WA and the AG.

"On 19 January 2018 India formally became the 43rd member of the Australia Group (AG), the cooperative and voluntary group of countries working to counter the spread of materials, equipment and technologies that could contribute to the development or acquisition of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) by states or terrorist groups," the AG said in a release.

The AG is an informal forum of countries which, through the "harmonisation of export controls, seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons".

It decided to admit India as the Group's 43rd participant through a "consensus" decision, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Reacting to India's entry to the group, MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar said it would be "mutually beneficial and to help in non-proliferation".

Kumar said the membership in the AG would further contribute to the international security and non-proliferation objectives.

"India would like to thank each of the AG participants for their support for India's membership. We would also like to thank Ambassador Jane Hardy of Australia, former Chair of the Australia Group, for her role in facilitating India's accession to the Group," Kumar added.

Membership in the Australia Group comes months after India secured a berth in the Wassernaar Arrangement in December last year. New Delhi had bagged membership in the elite Missile Control Technology Regime (MTCR) in 2016.

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies is a multilateral export control regime.

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