India, US Defense Honeymoon Continues
India and the United States continue to engage each other in closer defense cooperation, with the two sides now embarking on their second leg of bilateral talks on what is called the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership.
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Commerce Kenneth Juster is in the Indian capital to hold talks with senior Indian officials that would pave the way for cooperation in sensitive technologies and hi-tech trade.
Juster is meeting India's National Security Adviser J.N. Dixit, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and his Indian counterpart S.N. Menon.
The NSSP, launched in January, is aimed at bolstering cooperation in civilian space and nuclear programs, high-technology commerce and dialogue on missile defense.
In September, Washington had eased restrictions on supply of equipment and technology for India's space and nuclear programs ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's summit with President George W. Bush in New York.
Washington had also removed Indian Space Research Organization from its prohibitive list.
The second phase of talks would revisit implementation of measures to address proliferation concerns and ensure compliance with the U.S. export controls.
Although, the September talks lifted sanctions from the Indian Space Research Organization, at least seven other subsidiaries of ISRO remain on the entities list.
The Times of India reported that these subsidiaries have merely been upgraded from a denial status to a case-by-case approval status.
Though a bulk of ISRO's work was conducted by the headquarters, the subsidiaries were equally important and space cooperation would become inordinately slow if these sanctions were not lifted, The Times said.
We are looking for a more symmetrical relationship with the U.S., India's Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said.
In a bid to address Washington's concerns about proliferation, India has allowed the United States to position an export-control attachee at the embassy in New Delhi to monitor end-use verification of the sensitive technology that the U.S exports to India.
The United States has positioned five export-control attaches all over the world.
Nowhere is the reinforcing relationship between trade and security more evident than in the activities of our export control attachee. The attacheehelp us ensure that we are supporting American exports abroad, as well as working with our foreign counterparts to prevent export violations, Juster said at the Update 2004 Conference on Export Controls and Policy in Washington on Oct. 4.
In Fiscal Year 2004, we added new attachee in Hong Kong and Moscow to those already in Beijing and Abu Dhabi, and one will be starting in New Delhi later this month, Juster said.
These five attacheeplay a key role in our system of end-use verification visits, which are designed to facilitate trade within the context of security requirements, he said.
India also plans to clear the air over the United States placing sanctions on two of its scientists for their alleged nuclear cooperation with Iran.
India is furious because neither of the scientists had anything to do with Iran or even proliferation, The Times reported.
Saran said, Through the partnership, we are underlining the point that India is part of the solution, not the problem.
India and the United States have been warming up in closer defense cooperation in the recent years. India has sided with Washington in its war against terror in Afghanistan, but New Delhi has stayed off the war in Iraq.
India last week ruled out signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, saying it is a responsible nuclear power.
I don't know whether the circumstances are ripe right now for us to sign that (NPT). But we are voluntarily fulfilling all the commitments that go with being a responsible nuclear power acting with due restraint, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a joint news conference with visiting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the Indian capital.
We are a nuclear power. We are a responsible nuclear power, Singh said, adding, We have an impeccable record in export control, and we would like to work with like-minded countries on non-proliferation issues.
India shocked the world by conducting nuclear tests in 1998 that led to a series of international sanctions, including on the imports of hi-tech equipment by Indian space and defense organizations.
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