Wassenaar Arrangement

Wassenaar Arrangement

To prepare for INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS  for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know AGREEMENTS.  Here we will study about Wassenaar Arrangement. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Governance syllabus (GS-II.). Wassenaar Arrangement terms are important from International Relation perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.


Basics and Background:

  • It 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 multi-lateral cooperation was reached in 1995.
  • 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.
  • It complements and reinforces, without duplication, the existing regimes for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, by focusing on the threats to international and regional peace and security which may arise form transfers of armaments and sensitive dual-use goods and technologies where the risks are judged greatest.
  • This arrangement is also intended to enhance co-operation to prevent the acquisition of armaments and sensitive dual-use items for military end-uses,if the situation in a region or the behaviour of a state is, or becomes, a cause for serious concern to the Participating States.
  • The Participating States seek through their national policies to ensure that transfers of arms and dual-use goods and technologies do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities that undermine international and regional security and stability and are not diverted to support such capabilities.
  • The Arrangement does not impede bona fide civil transactions and is not directed against any state or group of states.
  • All measures undertaken with respect to the Arrangement are in accordance with member countries’ national legislation and policies and implemented on the basis of national discretion.


Member countries

  • It 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.
  • The Arrangement is open on a global and non-discriminatory basisto prospective adherents that comply with the agreed criteria. To be admitted, a state must: be a producer/exporter of arms or industrial equipment respectively; maintain non-proliferation policies and appropriate national policies, including adherence to relevant non-proliferation regimes and treaties; and maintain fully effective export controls.


Five basic principles of Wassenaar Arrangement:

  1. It contributes to regional and international security and stability.
  2. It promotes transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies.
  3. It complements and reinforces the export control regimes for weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.
  4. It is not directed against any state or group of states.
  5. It uses export controls as a means to combat terrorism.


How does the Wassenaar Arrangement work?

  • 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.


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.


India’s entry to the Wassenaar Arrangement:

  • In a significant victory for its non-proliferation track record, India in the recent pasthas gained a step ahead in its elite export control regime becoming the 42nd member of the Wassenaar Arrangement.
  • Even though India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has managed to make its entry into the Wassenaar group.
  • India has managed to do that by updating its export control lists earlier this year, to bring it in line with international standards, including those required by the Wassenaar Arrangement.
  • To be precise, India approved SCOMET (Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment, and Technologies) items, mandatory under the Wassenaar Arrangement. Through the revised list of items, India also seeks to send a message about its larger commitment to non-proliferation.


Significance of India’s entry:

  • Earlier India’s efforts at the NSG were stopped by China, which is not a member of the Wassenaar Arrangement.
  • Wassenaar Arrangement membership is seen as a credit on India’s need for diplomacy in sensitive nuclear issues, compared to the failed attempt to gain entry to the NSG in 2016.
  • India’s admittance into the Wassenaar Arrangement will strengthen India’s credentials as a responsible nuclear power.
  • India’s WA membership is expected to build up a strong case for India’s entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
  • Wassenaar Arrangement will also embed India deeper in the global non-proliferation architecture and enable access to critical technologies in the defence and space sectors.


Other Nuclear Groups:



§  The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

§  It has 48 members and India is not a member of this group.

§  Support of international efforts towards non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is the main consideration for the participation in the group.

§  The NSG Guidelines authorises a member country to transfer only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.



§  Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was established in April 1987 by Japan.

§  It aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.

§  It has 35 members, which include most of the world’s key missile manufacturers, India is a member in this group.

§  It seeks to restrict the exports of missiles and related technologies of any type of weapon of mass destruction.

Australia Group


§  The Australia Group (AG) is an informal forum of countries which, through the harmonization of export controls.

§  It seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical or biological weapons.

§  It has 42 members and India is not a member of this group.