International

What is Wassenaar Arrangement?

Wassenaar Arrangement, an elite export control regime on Thursday decided to admit India as its new member, which is expected to raise New Delhi’s stature in the field of non-proliferation besides helping it acquire critical technologies. The decision was taken at the two-day plenary meeting of the grouping in Vienna.

The WA membership is also expected to build up a strong case for India’s entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Significantly, China, which stonewalled India’s entry into the 48-nation NSG, is not a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Here is all you need to know about the WA regime:

What is Wassenaar Arrangement?

The Wassenaar Arrangement is an elite club of countries which subscribe to arms export controls, similar to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime.

The body came into being in 1996 to succeed the Cold War-era Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls. The name comes from Wassenaar, a suburb of The Hague, where the agreement to start such a multi-lateral cooperation was reached in 1995.

Who are all members of the Wassenaar Arrangement?

The WA has 42 members, the latest entrant being India. With the exception of China, all the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are signatories of the WA, which is headquartered in Vienna.

How does the Wassenaar Arrangement work?

According to the WA website, the goal of the Arrangement is to "promote transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies". Participants are required to "ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine the goal". The aim, according to WA, is also to prevent the acquisition of these items by terrorists.

What are Wassenaar Control Lists

The Arrangement works according to what it calls WA Control Lists. The controls are subject to ratification by the participants. WA members agree to exchange information on sensitive dual-use goods and technologies and report on such transfers and denials of controlled items to non-participants.

What does this mean to India?

Since it’s a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, India would look up to the WA membership to boost its credentials to enter NSG. Crucially, China, which stands in the way of India’s NSG entry, is not a member of WA.

Are there any catches?

Critics see WA simply as a Cold War instrument with a different name. According to them Arrangement perpetuates a digital divide by restricting western companies and governments from supplying crucial technologies to emerging markets. Computer scientists and policy analysts have also expressed concern about developed economies using less developed countries as Guinea Pigs for their cyber security research by supplying them with intrusive technologies that could be used for mass surveillance.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, has accused the United States of going for even narrower restrictions on technology transfer.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 3:06:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/what-is-wassenaar-arrangement/article21297847.ece

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