India, US finalise arms deal

Completing negotiations on the contentious end user verification agreement (EUVA) is a significant development as it is expected to boost US military sales in the billion dollar Indian arms market.

The EUVA gives the US legal rights to monitor the US-origin military hardware after the sale to find out if they are being used for the intended purpose.

In the past there were political objections on the EUVA preventing the Centre to sign it earlier.

But unshackled from the Left clutch, the UPA-II took the decision to go ahead with EUVA, which is a legal requirement for the US arms companies.

The formal announcement by the External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in presence of the visiting secretary of state Hillary Clinton means that the political clearance has been obtained on the EUVA.

“We have finalised the end use monitoring agreement. It will henceforth be referred to in the letters of acceptance on procurement of defence equipment and technologies,” Krishna said.

The agreement was not signed possibly because the formal procedures were not completed. The Cabinet Committee on Security is yet to approve the EUVA formally.

Absence of the monitoring agreement was one of the bottlenecks in realising Indian Navy’s two billion dollar deal in January to purchase eight P81 Poseidon jets for maritime reconnaissance from Boeing.

When Indian Navy purchased the US landing platform dock Trenton in a $ 50 million deal in 2006, it signed a similar one-off agreement allowing US inspectors to check the ship and inventory, which triggered a controversy. The technical safeguards agreement in space between the two nations also indicates forward movement as the space sector did not benefit much so far from the increasing warmth in the Indo-US relationship.

The agreement will cover scientific payloads by the academia and third country space agencies. But the lucrative commercial satellite launch remains outside the TSA. For commercial launch would require a separate commercial space launch agreement. “The TSA will permit the launch of civil or non-commercial satellites containing US components on Indian space launch vehicles,” Krishna said.

The TSA will also have provisions for US monitoring to check diversion or misuse of the technology and equipment. However, even after the TSA is signed, the ISRO will be requiring more changes in the US State Department processes before taking the full advantage of the agreement.

On the positive side, the TSA is expected to give space scientists access to some of the critical technologies of US-origin, which were denied to India so far.

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