NEW DELHI: India has joined an exclusive club of countries controlling exports in missile technology, just a day after bemoaning its exclusion from another elite group that governs international nuclear fuel and technology.

The Indian foreign secretary on Monday signed onto the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), aimed at preventing the unchecked proliferation of missiles and their delivery systems.

The foreign ministry thanked the other 34 members of the MTCR group for supporting its inclusion.

Inclusion in the MTCR was seen as a next step for India in legitimizing its nuclear energy and missile programs after it conducted atomic tests in 1998 that alarmed the international community.

Admission to the MTCR would open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology, also making more realistic its aspiration to buy surveillance drones such as the Predator, made by General Atomics.

Membership of the MTCR requires India to comply with rules such as a maximum missile range of 300 km (186 miles) that seek to prevent arms races from developing.

Italy had initially objected to admitting India but, after an unrelated bilateral dispute was resolved, did not object within a 10-day deadline after the group's chair, the Netherlands, wrote to members suggesting India be welcomed.

India still hopes to secure support for joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group, despite strong objections from China.

Last week, the Nuclear Suppliers Group failed to reach consensus on India’s membership application after several members of the international nuclear trade cartel insisted on adhering to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) condition for admission, thus blocking Delhi’s entry.

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