The United States House of Representatives approved Indian-origin Congressman Ro Khanna’s amendment to the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA) on Thursday, paving the way for an India-specific waiver for the CAATSA sanctions.
The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) became a sticking point in India-US ties after New Delhi inked a deal to secure the S-400 missile defence system from Moscow, in the midst of the Russia-Ukraine war. Washington had been mulling whether to apply or waive sanctions on India over the deal.
Enacted by the US Congress in 2017, CAATSA provides for punitive actions against any country engaged in transactions with Russian defence and intelligence sectors.
CAATSA WAIVER FOR INDIA
The amendment to the NDAA was passed by voice vote as part of an en bloc amendment during floor consideration of the NDAA. While it doesn’t equal a decision on CAATSA, it urges the administration to grant a waiver only to India.
Afterwards, Ro Khanna said the move will further strengthen US and India’s defence partnership.
“There is no relationship of greater significance to US strategic interests than the US-India partnership. My bipartisan NDAA amendment marks the most significant piece of legislation for US-India relations out of Congress since the US-India nuclear deal,” he said.
The Khanna amendment will affirm the United States’ partnership with India and urge the Biden administration to use their authority to provide India with a CAATSA waiver to help deter aggressors like China.
“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.
WHAT THE LEGISLATION COVERS
The Indian-American Congressman’s amendment had four sub-sections. The first section said that “a strong United States-India defense partnership, rooted in shared democratic values, is critical in order to advance United States interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
In the second sub-head of the amendment, Khanna talked about United States-India initiative on critical and emerging technologies (ICET). He said that the initiative is an essential step to developing closer partnerships between governments, academia, and industry in the United States and India to address the latest advances in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, aerospace, and semiconductor manufacturing.
The amendment also had a different sub-head for border threats from China and reliance on Russian-built weapons. Under the category, Khanna said, “India faces immediate and serious regional border threats from China, with continued military aggression by the Government of China along the India-China border.”
He further said that India relies on Russian-built weapons for its national defense, and the United States should take additional steps to encourage India to accelerate India’s transition off Russian-built weapons and defense systems while strongly supporting India’s immediate defense needs.
In the final sub-head of the amendment, Khanna said that the waiver of CAATSA sanctions is in the best interests of United States and the United States-India defense partnership.
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