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“There is lot of concern in the US administration and the Congress that any country that acquires the S-400 systems will complicate the capability to have (military) interoperability with us … And we value India as a very important strategic partner,” said Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee William ‘Mac’ Thrornberry here on Monday.
Members of the visiting high-powered US Congress delegation also indicated that their country’s proposed sale of armed drones like MQ-9 Reaper or Predator-B and other high-tech equipment to India could be impacted if the S-400 deal was inked.
The US also wants India to sign the Communications Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) to take their bilateral strategic partnership to the next level, with an eye firmly on China’s “aggressive” moves in the Indo-Pacific region.
But India and Russia, with proposed defence projects worth over $12 billion hanging in the balance, are now working on a roadmap to get around the new US law called CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanction Act), as was first reported by TOI.
While US defence secretary Jim Mattis has already argued for “national security waivers and relief” from CAATSA for countries like India, Thrornberry said the Congress and Senate were also working on measures and language to ease Indian concerns.
But the Indian security establishment remains quite upset at the US state department’s move on April 6 to notify 39 Russian entities, including the state-controlled arms exporter Rosoboronexport, with which India does regular business. Any third party that conducts “significant transactions” with these 39 entities makes it liable for sanctions under CAATSA.