'Obama should endorse India's bid for permanent seat in UNSC'

"Now is a critical time in this partnership, a moment to transform past bilateral accomplishments into regional and global successes. We urge American and Indian leaders to seize it," former Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, R Nicholas Burns said.

Besides the two former US officials, Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, Richard Fontaine also contributed to the 16-page report titled 'Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of US-India Relations.'

"In light of US aspirations for the US-India strategic partnership – the United States should commit, publicly and explicitly, to work with India in support of its permanent membership in an enlarged UN Security Council," they said.

The report has been endorsed by more than 20 American and Indian experts including former US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner, former Bush Administration officials Karan Bhatia and Susan C Schwab and former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl F Inderfurth. It also recommended that the US give concrete meaning to the phrase "strategic partnership" by deepening relations and strengthening collaboration in a number of areas, including countering terrorism and violent extremism, bolstering the international nonproliferation regime and fostering greater stability, security and economic prosperity in South Asia.

"The United States should remove Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) subsidiaries from the US Entity List and consider removing other organizations from the list as the Indian government draws clearer lines between its civil space and civil nuclear activities on the one hand, and its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons activities on the other. Such distinctions would clarify and ease licensing policy for Indian acquisition of more sophisticated defense items and technology," the report said.

The US Department of Commerce's Entity List contains a list of foreign end users which might have proliferation concerns. The list is aimed at assisting exporters in determining whether an entity poses proliferation concerns.

The US should designate an appropriate senior official at the cabinet level to coordinate export-control issues related to India and take the lead in resolving overlapping regulatory and policy issues, they said.

"The United States should also cease calling for India to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non- nuclear state, as it has for many years. Rather, the United States should encourage India to fully conform its laws, policies and practices to those of NPT members, irrespective of its non-member status," it said.

"For its part, India should work closely with the United States and the rest of the international community to prevent Iran's development of nuclear weapons," the report said.
Given that India was unlikely to join the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the near term, the US should support observer status for India or the creation of an (International Energy Agency) 'IEA+2' or an 'IEA+5' that would include India together with China and possibly a handful of other countries.

"The aim should be to ensure that India, a country with growing energy needs, has a seat at the table as IEA member states coordinate policy and discuss energy security issues," the report said.

The report also asks India to change its recently passed nuclear liability bill. The Civil Nuclear Agreement constituted a historic step forward in the US-India ties and has become the cornerstone of the new partnership.

Failure to complete the steps necessary to implement the agreement, however, risks severely damaging the rest of the relationship. "Consequently, the United States and India must press vigorously for rapid implementation of the agreement. The Indian Parliament recently passed a nuclear-liability law that deviates significantly from international standards and renders equipment suppliers potentially liable for as long as 80 years," it said.

"This law is a major disappointment to private and public officials in the United States, and India should take quick and resolute action to resolve this issue. Failure to do so will undermine the most important agreement the two countries have negotiated and pose grave risks for the relationship at the political level."

India can secure this historic achievement by resolving the issue of legal liability and providing the remaining non- proliferation assurances that the US requires, it added.

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