qtech_logo_t

Indo- US Defence Relations on Up Swing

kn

In the recent past, the ties between the two countries have witnessed rapid expansion in different fields from trade to science, technology & defence and USA's support in securing India's entry into MTCR has boosted the relationship further....

Relationship between India and US is on the upswing in the recent past and the US has gradually replaced Russia as India's largest arms supplier. The bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $61.64 billion in 2013-14, which the US is targeting an eight fold increase to $ 500 billion by 2025. Major defence contracts signed during the last three years as depicted below will reveal that the share of US is 82% compared to 11 % of Russia.

Few of the major contracts signed are purchase of Boeing's 22 Apache & 15 Chinook helicopters worth around $ 2.5 billion, ten C-17 aircrafts worth $ 4.7 billion and recently the DAC   approved case of procurement of 145 Ultra Light Howitzers through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route from US for about $750 Million. American defence equipment are flowing in steadily and defence equipments worth $9 billion are in the pipeline.

The ties between the two countries have witnessed rapid expansion in different fields from trade to science, technology and defence. The later is evident from the recent outcome of the Indian PM's visit to USA which is the “third major bilateral summit”, after September 2014 and January 2015.  Apart from securing entry into MTCR, the USA has assured full support for the membership of NSG, a significant achievement has been the recognition of India as a major defence partner by US and its readiness to share defence technologies to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners. The United States has also re-affirmed its support for India's early membership of the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement.

If India is able to become a member of all these four Groups, apart from being accepted as an integral part of global nuclear and missile set up, it will have access once again to strategic technologies and materials. The details of these groups are given in the table.

Details NSGMTCRWASSENAR AGGREMENTAUSTRALIAN GROUP
Established 1974 1987   1996   1985 
Member Nations 48 34 (now 35)   41  41
Function Concerned with reducing nuclear non-proliferation by controlling the export of nuke-related technologies. Prevents the export and sale of missile and UAV technology which could be used to deliver nukes.   Export controls on conventional arms and dual-use goods and technology   Set up to prevent proliferation and sale of chemical/biological weapons
Status Proposal submitted in May, likely membership by end 2016 Membership confirmed    Yet to apply   Yet to apply
Benefits Will allow India to access global market for N-fuel, components. Access to missile and drone technology, can export missiles   Will ease Indian defence exports   Will allow India to curtail WMD acquisition by terrorists.

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

With the United States support India has finally become the 35th member of the coveted MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime), a move that will greatly enhance its potential to export missiles, giving a boost to the indigenous defence sector.

India had cleared all hurdles on 07 Jun itself as this was the deadline for 34-nation group members to object to India's admission to become a member of MTCR and now the membership has been confirmed. India's export push comes as it emerges from decades of isolation over its nuclear arms programme. The entry has paved the way for India to procure high-end missile technology and surveillance systems by leading manufacturers. This development would give a fillip to 'Make-in-India' push and can help the nation become an arms exporter for the first time.

MTCR is an informal and voluntary anti-proliferation group that aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks. MTCR's controls are applicable to certain complete rocket systems (to include ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles (SLVs), and sounding rockets) and unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems (to include cruise missiles, drones, UAVs, and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs)). Partners also recognize the importance of controlling the transfer of missile-related technology without disrupting legitimate trade and acknowledge the need to strengthen the objectives of the Regime through cooperation with countries outside the Regime.

MTCR's current partners are; Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, US and now India.

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), oversees the “prevention of proliferation of missile and UAV technology capable of carrying a 500 kg payload for at least 300 km”, many doors that have been shut for years will finally be open. It will be a historic break away from the conspicuous and wholly incongruous isolation India has faced from this club, many of which have an inferior technology proliferation record than India's own. India will now try for following at the earliest:

  • Predator XP and Avenger hunter killer drones: The optionally armed XP variant has been out of bounds so far as a result of MTCR export restrictions. The Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force are looking keenly at the possibility of a future acquisition of Predator XP and Avenger hunter-killer drones respectively.
  • BrahMos exports to friendly countries: Even though the BrahMos' stated range is 290 km, ten kilometres under the MTCR's upper stipulated limit of 300 km, but with MTCR sanction, India has the badge-pin it needs to process interest from countries like UAE, Chile and South Africa, but especially wrap up a contract with Vietnam as the likely first international customer of the BrahMos.
  • Long-Range Missiles on Indian submarines: India currently operates the Russian leased INS Chakra nuclear-powered submarine, a platform capable of deploying strategic weapons, but in service with India under a non-combat clause and devoid of long-range missiles as a result of Russia's MTCR commitments. India's membership of the regime ramps up possibilities in configuration for a second submarine that India is said to be in discussions for.
  • India's UCAV programme: India's MTCR membership will allow its access to critical technologies it may need from abroad. It should be said that firms like BAE Systems, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Airbus, Dassault and RAC-MiG have shown interest in working with India on its futuristic UAS concept, but could not do so because of MTCR commitments of their countries.

Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

President Obama not only welcomed India's application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), but re-affirmed that India is ready for membership and India's candidature for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will be fully supported. The United States called on NSG Participating Governments to support India's application during NSG Plenary scheduled for June 20-24 in Seoul. The other applicants for the present NSG plenary were Pakistan and Namibia.

The outcome of plenary of the NSG held on 24 Jun16 ended without a decision on India's membership. India needed a unanimous vote in the 48-member group to become a member, but Beijing insisted that India should not become a member until it signs the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and also played the Pakistan card. Although India found support from countries such as the US, the UK, France, and Russia, however, opposition to India's entry came from countries, such as Norway, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Switzerland, Turkey, Austria, Ireland and China citing the reason pertaining to the entry of non-NPT countries into the elite club.

However, USA has assured that membership issue for NSG will again be considered by the plenary during this year end and they will ensure that all procedural aspects are taken care of for the entry of India into this club.

The NSG guidelines clarify that signing of NPT is not a pre-requisite and there is a precedent of France joining the grouping before it signed NPT. Moreover, Indian track record on nuclear proliferation has been immaculate. India has consistently maintained that NPT is a discriminatory regime since it perpetuates the nuclear weapons with five nuclear states and is against the spirit of disarmament.   The entry to the grouping is sought to facilitate nuclear trade for efficient generation of   civil nuclear energy to meet our goal of   generating 40% of overall need of the energy through renewal and clean energy sources. This will also help India to commit positively towards the world's climate change effort.

The other important events and joint statements made during the present visit are:

  • The long pending finalization of the text of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) has been announced, and will be followed by actual signing shortly.
  • New Delhi is now also open to other agreements, such as the Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), which it has so far resisted.
  • United States had moved a bill to recognise India as a Major Defense Partner to work toward facilitating technology sharing to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners. However, the US Senate for the time being did not pass this key amendment to modify its export control regulations to recognise India as a global strategic and defence partner of the US.
  • An understanding has been reached under which India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies, in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives.”
  • In support of India's Make In India initiative, and to support the development of robust defense industries and their integration into the global supply chain, USA will continue to facilitate the export of goods and technologies, consistent with US law, for projects, programs, joint ventures and expand the co-production and co-development of technologies under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
  • Establishment of new DTTI [Defence Technology and Trade Initiative] working groups will include agreed items covering Naval Systems, Air Systems and other Weapons Systems.
  • Finalization of the text of an Information Exchange Annex under the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation.
  • Agreement for six 1000MW nuclear power plants from Toshiba-Westinghouse to be installed in India will end the 53 year old hiatus in supply of nuclear energy to India by USA.

The USA had swung India's entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime to use the MTCR key to try and force the issue of India's entry to the Nuclear Suppliers' Group with the likely aim to ensure that India eventually secures a seat at the high table in a reformed UN Security Council. Though, the membership to NSG is still hanging, but hopefully by the year end India will secure entry to this elite club and rest will follow.

 

Comments are closed.