Govt draws flak over end-user agreement

UPA hiding details of the deal with US: Oppn


This prompted the opposition to put the government on the mat in both Houses.

While Defence Minister A K Antony and South Block officials refused to comment on the EUMA, a statement made by the External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in the Parliament did not say whether India will allow on-site physical verification of US-origin weapon platforms and if US can dictate terms on where to deploy these military platforms. 

Krishna said EUMA systemised the ad hoc arrangements made for individual defence procurements from the USA entered into by previous governments.

The response did not satisfy BJP and the Left parties who staged a walk-out in both Houses marking their protests.

In the last seven years India signed at least five EUMA with the USA on a case- by-case basis beginning with the NDA government’s decision to purchase 12 ANTPQ weapon locating radar made by Raytheon in 2002. In the subsequent years, New Delhi bought critical technologies like landing platform dock USS Trenton, three VIP jets from Boeing with self-protection suits, six 130J heavy lift Hercules transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin and eight P8I Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft from Boeing in 2009. In each case, there was an EUMA. The first four come under the department of defence’s Golden Sentry EUMA programme applicable for government-to-government direct foreign military sale.

The Poseidon deal fits under the department of state’s Blue Lantern class of EUMA involving direct commercial sales.

Originating from the Arms Export Control Act, both EUMA come with stringent conditions that may lead to a shift in the foreign policy of the buyer nation.  Giving India’s past experience with the USA, a large section of Indian political class is not comfortable with EUMA, which may lead to that foreign policy shift in future.

The EUMA conditions also include prior US permission to laterally transfer equipment to another service – from Army to the Navy or Border Security Force for example – and opening up the military base to foreign inspectors.

It entails snap inspection on the basis of what the USA believes are “credible reports” (typically intelligence inputs) on the alleged misuse of a platform and constant endeavour on the part of the buying nation to show it is worthy of the US trust.

In the Lok Sabha BJP leader Yashwant Sinha wanted to know if military equipment from a third country having US equipment would also be subject to the EUMA.

Demanding more clarification on the controversial agreement, which UPA-I could not sign due to the Left pressure, BJP, Left, SP, JD(U) and even UPA ally RJD accused the government for subjugating India’s sovereign interests to the USA.

South Block sources said the initial draft to have an umbrella-type EUMA instead of individual contracts was drafted by the ministry of defence. It appears significant changes were incorporated in the text subsequently.  Krishna and secretary of state Hillary Clinton did not sign the pact. But the formal announcement means the text has been frozen and it will be signed at a later stage.

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