India, U.S. Agree on Defense Trade Monitoring

By Abramson, Jeff; Horner, Daniel | Arms Control Today, September 2009 | Go to article overview

India, U.S. Agree on Defense Trade Monitoring


Abramson, Jeff, Horner, Daniel, Arms Control Today


India and the United States have agreed on an end-use monitoring arrangement that will make it easier for India to acquire advanced U.S. defense equipment, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna announced at a joint press appearance with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in New Delhi July 20.

The pact "will boost India's ability to defend itself through the acquisition of U.S. defense equipment while promoting American high tech exports," according to a Department of State summary of the trip. Few details about the deal were released. A State Department official said in an Aug. 28 e-mail that the end-use monitoring text has been finalized, but is not publicly available.

The agreement is significant in part because India currently is seeking 126 fighter jets to update its air force, a contract that could be worth more than $10 billion. Major U.S. defense contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin are part of an international competition for the contract.

The possibility of broad U.S. access to sensitive Indian defense sites was controversial in India. Typical U.S. end-use monitoring agreements place a number of limitations on recipients of U.S. defense articles, including provisions for on-site inspection by U.S. officials and prohibitions on the retransfer of the equipment.

Shortly after the July 20 announcement, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh defended the agreement, telling Parliament that Indian sovereignty was not compromised and that the agreement did not allow "unilateral" U.S. inspections. According to Indian press reports citing unnamed government officials, the two countries reworked the on-site inspection system. Although U.S. inspectors will be allowed to inspect equipment purchased or transferred from the United States, the inspections will be prescheduled and occur at locations of India's choice, the reports said. If the equipment is being used, there are provisions for rescheduling the inspection, according to the reports. The State Department official did not confirm this information but instead indicated that some of the details are still being determined.

Monitoring Nuclear Exports

Export monitoring also has been an issue in proposed nuclear cooperation between the United States and India. …

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