US lawmakers approve CAATSA waiver for India

The US House of Representatives on Thursday approved legislation that recommend an India-specific waiver under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), thus deepening defence ties between both the democracies and help deter aggressors like China.

The House approved the measure, offered by Democratic Representative Congressman Ro Khanna, an Indian-American Congressman and a member of the House Armed Services Act, as an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by 330 to 99.

However, this amendment is several steps from becoming law. After the House passage of the NDAA – the Senate must approve its version. Then lawmakers must reach a compromise version of the legislation, which authorizes more than $800 billion in defense spending, before voting again later this year.

This monumental amendment marks the most significant piece of legislation for US and India relations out of Congress since the US and India nuclear deal, according to a statement released by Khanna.

“The United States must stand with India in the face of escalating aggression from China. As Vice Chair of the India Caucus, I have been working to strengthen the partnership between our countries and ensure that India can defend itself along the Indian Chinese border,” said Rep. Khanna.

“This amendment is of the utmost importance, and I am proud to see it pass the House on a bipartisan basis.”

He said that the India-US partnership, rooted in shared democratic values, is critical in order to advance United States interests in the Indo-Pacific region; and this partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies is critical and must continue to be strengthened in response to increasing threats in the Indo-Pacific regions, sending an unequivocal signal that sovereignty and international law must be respected.

“The amendment is a good signal to the Biden administration on what the house thinks of CAATSA and India”, an analyst told ANI

This amendment is the latest effort by members of Congress to underscore a strong defence partnership between India and the United States, highlighting China’s threat to India’s security.

Furthermore, in Khanna’s amendment, there is a section titled “Border Threats from China and reliance on Russian weapons”, which proposes that the Congress recognise that India faces “immediate and serious regional border threats from China, with incessant military aggression by the Government of China along the India-China border”.

It emphasized that the United States should take additional steps to encourage India to accelerate its transition off Russian-built weapons and defense systems while strongly supporting India’s immediate defense needs.

While addressing the House of Representatives, Khanna lauded the US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (ICET) which was announced during the Tokyo summit between President Joe Biden and President Narendra Modi as an essential step” to formulate closer ties between the two nations in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, aerospace and semiconductor manufacturing.

While India faces an immediate need to maintain its heavily Russian-built weapons systems, a waiver to sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act during this transition period is in the best interests of the United States and the United States-India defense partnership to deter aggressors in light of Russia and China’s close partnership.

Under the CAATSA, the US imposes sanctions on those countries that have “significant transactions with Iran, North Korea or Russia”.

India had inked the USD 5.43 billion deal with Russia for five squadrons of S-400s in October 2018. Although as per a top official under President Joe Biden’s administration earlier, the United States has not made a final decision on sanctions on India for its acquisition of the S-400 missile system from Russia under the CAATSA.

The American politician with Indian heritage pointed out that a strong United States-India defence partnership is rooted in shared democratic values and is critical in order to advance United States interests in the Indo-Pacific region. (ANI)

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