Current Affairs- China and ASEAN agreement in South China Sea & India gets elusive STA-1 status from US

China  and ASEAN  in South China Sea

Southeast Asian nations and China have started showing some signs which could ease tension in the South China Sea region which in past was so much in turbulent waters. Peace in this region is  required, since last many years  and finally  some  steps  have been taken but still there is a long  way to go  to achieve some  results.

Past talks haven’t yielded any result, so this draft is being seen as a new beginning. China & ASEAN together have agreed on a draft code of conduct that will lay the foundation for negotiations over the disputed South China Sea.

This agreement will ease down some tensions that have risen as China has built artificial islands and military installations in the resource-rich waters that are also claimed by Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.

Situations seemed to be stabilizing & some positives are being seen thanks to the joint efforts from China & ASEAN countries.

Latest in the offerings is when the two sides meet in Singapore at the China ASEAN foreign ministers meeting when both have arrived at a single draft negotiating text of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.

Cooperation between China and ASEAN is required for maintaining regional peace and stability as well as promoting regional common prosperity.

Note: ASEAN member countries includes- Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, with its Headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia. It has 2 observers Papua New Guinea & East Timor or Timor Leste

India gets elusive STA-1 status from US

After South Korea & Japan, India becomes the third Asian Country being granted the Strategic Trade Authorization-1(STA-1) status. It is Conferred by United states. United States issued a federal notification for this.

This decision will boost India-US defense trade & will make it easy for India now to get high-technology product, particularly in civil space and defence sectors. Now India has access to a large scope of exports without separate licenses.

India is now 37th in the list of countries getting this STA-1 status, conferred by USA.

US close ally Israel is yet to get this status as US gives this status to only members of the all four export control regimes: Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), Australia Group (AG) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Israel not being the member of these.

India is member of all barring the exception of NSG which China continuously blocks for India. So in a way US sent a strong message to China by placing India in the STA-1 list and United States has acknowledged that for all practical purposes India adheres to the export control regimes of the NSG. It is also a testament to India’s non-proliferation credentials.

As said by US secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross, “India’s status as a Major Defense Partner led to its becoming a Strategic Trade Authorization (STA) Tier 1 country, comparable to our NATO allies, under the Department of Commerce’s Export Administration Regulations”.

India was granted tailor made status of a major defense partner of United States which is equal to that of a major non-NATO ally, without using that exact designation in 2016 during the Obama Administration.

This Strategic Trade Authorization (STA) Tier 1 status will enhance the bilateral defense trade relationship and result in a greater volume of US exports to India.


The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

[India is a member to this.]

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was established by G7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.  in 1987,which is a informal & voluntary partnership among 35 countries. It was established with the aim to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.

There is a mutual understanding among its members to restrict their exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.

Wassenaar Arrangement

[India is a member to this.]

Established with the aim of regional and international security and stability with the exchange of information on transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods and technologies among its 42 members..

With these exchanges its aim to promote greater transparency and responsibility so that destabilizing accumulations can be prevented.

Wassenaar calls on states to make a series of voluntary information exchanges and notifications on their export activities related to weapons and items appearing on the arrangement’s two control lists.

Australia Group

[India is a member to this.]

The use of chemical weapons by Iraq in 1984 led to some serious thinking in international fraternity to form some arrangement so that spread of chemical and biological weapons to be controlled and shouldn’t go in irresponsible hands. This led to establishment of Australia Group which is a voluntary, informal, export-control arrangement established in 1985.

Initially it has 15 member countries and later with the incorporation of India in january 2018 it currently boasts of 43 members. Held its first meeting in Brussels, Belgium in 1989. Its name derives from the initiative that Australia took in this  regard to create the group.

European Commission & all 28 member states of the European Union are among its members.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

[India is NOT a member to this.]

Nuclear Suppliers Group was established with the aim to curb the nuclear proliferation by controlling the nuclear exports for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons.

The NSG governs the transfers of civilian nuclear material and nuclear-related equipment and technology.

The NSG Guidelines require that importing states provide assurances to NSG members that proposed deals will not contribute to the creation of nuclear weapons with IAEA safeguards in place. The IAEA is charged with verifying that non-nuclear-weapon states are not illicitly pursuing nuclear weapons. IAEA safeguards include inspections, remote monitoring, seals, and other measures.

All existing members must approve an applicant for admittance to the regime. There are several countries with nuclear programs outside the NSG, most notably India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea.

India applied for NSG membership in June 2016 with heavy backing from United States. All except China supported India’s bid to join given its excellent track record of non proliferation. China cited reason that other non NPT states also expressed desire in joining the NSG, therefore India shouldn’t be given the preferential treatment alone.

Note: India is not a signatory to NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty). NPT is a treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. Its aim is to have peaceful uses of nuclear technology in the world.

NSG also been referred to as the London Group, or the London Suppliers Group due to the series of meetings held in London.

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