One year after India first applied for membership to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the country is set to be admitted after the unanimous approval of the MTCR’s current 34 Member States. The MTCR is a multilateral group which seeks to limit the spread of missile equipment, unmanned aerial vehicles, and technologies related to the production of delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction.

India officially launched its membership bid to the MTCR in June 2015 and it has received a positive reception from several MTCR member states.  The United States, which also backs India’s entry to the other three export control regimes – the  Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Agreement – has been an especially strong supporter as part of the India-US global strategic partnership.  However, in October last year, Italy challenged India’s MTCR bid, reportedly as a protest against the detention of two Italian marines in relation to the shooting of two Indian fishermen in 2012. Membership to the group requires consensus, allowing Italy to stall India's admittance. In May, the second marine was returned to Italy, with the first released late in 2015 after suffering a stroke. 

With no objections to India’s entry raised by the deadline on Monday, India will be the newest member of the exclusive MTCR club, pending completion of procedural formalities and internal documentation processes.

Hailed as a breakthrough for India’s strategic position, membership to MTCR will provide India access to high-calibre technologies to boost the country’s space and defence programmes. In particular, MTCR membership will give India both access and procurement capabilities to some of the world’s most advanced missile technology. Among the specific defence programmes India is expected to benefit from are acquisition of armed drones through technology transfer from the US, and export of India’s supersonic BrahMos cruise missiles, which India jointly developed with Russia. Furthermore, just a day following the Monday deadline that marked India’s membership a ‘done deal’, Prime Minister Modi and President Obama were reported to have discussed ramping up defence cooperation and military technology sharing.

India’s admission to the MTCR is likely to bolster its credentials and international support for India’s pending membership request to the Nuclear Supplier’s Group, although the NSG entry process is separate. Problematically for India, though, China will probably wield its veto to stop India’s entry to the NSG ‘nuclear club’. An NSG seat, if attained, would also not only further enhance India’s geopolitical clout but expand its already robust nuclear technology capabilities.


Project Alpha and the Association of University Legal Practitioners are pleased to release today a guidance document for universities and the higher education sector on export controls and the UK Government's student vetting scheme (ATAS).

Iran Sanctions Update

Alpha's Ian J. Stewart provides an overview of the current status and future of sanctions against Iran.

Alpha along with the Indian Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) and the Indian Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS) hosted a civil society conference on UNSCR 1540 in Delhi on the 23 and 24 February 2014 for the purpose of learning lessons from the resolution's first decade. The workshop was sponsored by the UN's Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and sought to identify 'effective practices'.  A conference report and follow up events will take place in the coming months, continuing the work of this conference.

Resolution 1540 was passed in the wake of the uncovering of the AQ Khan network and in the post-9/11 context with the purpose of preventing proliferation-related trade. The resolution is legally binding on all states and targets the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons (WMDs) and associated weapons systems. This resolution acts to create a safer international environment by decreasing gaps in legislation that non-state actors and others can exploit. A committee was also created to help guide and further the work of the Resolution.

The 28th April marks the 10th anniversary of the resolution's adoption, thus making this year an appropriate moment to reflect upon what has been achieved and what still needs to be done. At the conference, it was highlighted that, outside of the committee and individual governments, there had been little work done to capture what had been done or what had worked – something that must change if progress is to continue in the second decade.  

Despite the lack of systaltic assessment of the resolution’s implementation, it was evident at the conference that the main challenge going forward is in improving implementation on the ground. In the last decade, many countries (including India)[1] have adopted legislation to implement 1540's requirements, but legislation clearly alone cannot prevent proliferation. The report on effective practices that will be generated from this workshop will contribute to the next phase of the resolution's implementation.

There are many challenges that remain to be addressed, however, and Alpha, working along with IDSA, ISS and other non-governmental organisations, plans to take a lead on several of these. In particular, as Michael Aho, the US 1540 committee member noted in his closing remarks, more must be done to understand the role and obligations of academia in implementing the resolution.

More generally, the conference reemphasised the role that civil society can play in the resolution's implementation. In this regard, Alpha has announced the formation of a Collaboration on Open Source and Trade Analysis for Non-Proliferation (COSTA-NP) for the purposes of supporting international organisations such as the UNODA, UNSC 1540 committee, UN panels of experts and IAEA in implementing measures to prevent proliferation. The scope of COSTA-NP's work is flexible, but its message is clear: by working together to leverage the resources of civil society, we can do much to prevent proliferation. Civil society institutions that share these goals are therefore invited to participate in COSTA-NP.

Next steps
Alpha and IDSA will in the following weeks compile a report on effective practices in implementing the resolution. Alpha will also organise a variety of follow up events to build upon the success of the workshop.

For more information on Alpha, click here. For more information on the conference, click here. For more information on the 1540 committee click here. For more information on UNODA click here. For more information on COSTA-NP click here.


The first guide in the new 'Trade In...' Series has been released on civil nuclear trade in India. The guide seeks to compliment existing guidance provided by government regarding the regulations governing civil nuclear trade with India. The guide provides an account of changes in the position of the UK, the US and other states with regard to trade in civil nuclear technologies with India. It seeks to summarize what these changes mean for exporters. The paper is structured in three sections: Background, changes in civil nuclear trade with India, and practical considerations for UK exporters.

The paper is accessible to Alpha members. For more information about membership, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The paper is accessible in PDF form here.


Dr Rajiv Nayan and Mr Ian J. Stewart have recently published a CSSS occasional paper on Indian export controls. 

Abstract: India is emerging as an important country for the control of sensitive goods and technology. Currently, it approves a few hundred applications per year for the export of controlled goods, but the country’s growing economy exists alongside an increase in the production and acquisition of goods and technology that have potential end uses in Weapons of Mass Destruction programmes. Thus, India is rapidly becoming a significant potential supplier of sensitive goods. To control these goods, India has developed an impressive framework of export controls. It has legal and regulatory mechanisms, licensing, enforcement, and private sector engagement policy. India appears prepared to join the four multilateral export controls regimes with some minor regulatory changes. Nonetheless, there is further work to be done.

 Click here to access the paper

Sectoral Guidance