Washington: In an expected turn, the US House of Representatives has passed a legislative amendment by voice vote to approve waiver to India against the punitive CAATSA sanctions for its deal of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia to counter China’s aggression.
The legislative amendment was passed on Thursday as part of an en bloc (all together as a single unit) amendment during floor consideration of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA).
The amendment introduced by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna urged the Biden administration to use its authority to provide India with a Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) waiver to help deter aggressors like China.
CAATSA is a US federal law enacted in 2017. The Act empowers the US President to impose at least five of the 12 listed sanctions on persons engaged in a “significant transaction” with Russian defence and intelligence sectors.
India signed a 5.43 billion USD deal with Russia for the S-400 Triumf missile system in October 2018,despite objections from the US and the threat of sanctions under CAATSA. India is likely to begin taking delivery of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia in November 2021.
The US lawmakers continue to voice their support for a sanctions waiver from Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for India.
“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 Khanna, the US representative from California’s 17th congressional district.
“This amendment is of the utmost importance, and I am proud to see it pass the House on a bipartisan basis,” he said. The law was brought in 2017 and provides for punitive actions by the US government against any country engaged in transactions with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors.
Earlier, the US had already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the CAATSA for the purchase of a batch of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.
“My bipartisan NDAA amendment marks the most significant piece of legislation for US-India relations out of Congress since the US-India nuclear deal,” Khanna said during his remarks.
According to the legislation “The United States-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (ICET) is a welcome and essential step to developing closer partnerships between governments, academia, and industry in the two countries to address the latest advances in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, aerospace, and semiconductor manufacturing.”
Such collaborations between engineers and computer scientists are vital to help ensure that the United States and India, as well as other democracies around the world, foster innovation and facilitate technological advances which continue to far outpace Russian and Chinese technology, it said.