Boost for defence


India-US relations have entered the third phase of their strategic relationship. The two countries have signed three important agreements during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to India. While the first is an end-use monitoring arrangement (EUMA) for defence equipment and technology, the second is a EUMA for technology in space cooperation. The third agreement provides for a science and technology endowment fund. The EUMA in defence deals is required under US law for US military exports. An important barrier in the way of US sale of defence equipment to India has thus been removed. However, in the name of permitting US monitoring of the end-use of its technology exports, the agreement allows Washington to physically inspect Indian defence equipment. This is rather intrusive as far as India is concerned, though it is not new. What the EUMA agreement provides is one end-use pact that applies to all defence deals, existing and in the pipeline.

There is concern in India that the non-proliferation agenda of the  Obama administration is weakening US resolve to carry forward the nuclear agreement with India. Clinton has sought to dispel these doubts with assurances that the US will not block transfer of nuclear technology to India. But scepticism on this score will continue till Washington acts to fulfil its promises.

The friendly atmospherics during Clinton’s visit notwithstanding, there is reason for concern. Gaps in positions on issues such as climate change, outsourcing and nuclear proliferation have not narrowed since her visit. A look at the issues on which deals were done indicates that these are in areas of substantial gain to US business interests. The EUMA agreement for defence equipment, for instance, opens the door for US business to do deals worth $20 billion in defence and nuclear energy sales to India. It is important that the US addresses other issues of concern to India. US supply of military hardware to Pakistan has encouraged the latter to adopt confrontationist postures vis-a-vis India.  Still the US continues to provide Pakistan with military hardware that is used against India. India needs to clarify to the Americans that warming ties are conditional on mutual gain.

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