Ro Khanna seeks sanctions waiver, deeper India-US defense ties

Calls upon Washington to strongly support India’s defense needs, while encouraging India to accelerate its transition off Russian-built weapons

In one of the most consequential proposals for US-India relations, Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna has sought a stronger India-US defense partnership and a waiver of sanctions that may be triggered by India’s acquisition of Russian weapons.

Amid escalating Chinese aggression along the Indian-Chinese border, Khanna’s ‘historic amendment’ to the National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), seeks a waiver for India from the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Read: Ro Khanna asks India to condemn Putin, stop buying Russian oil (March 28, 2022)

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

Noting that India relies on Russian-built weapons for its national defense, Khanna’s amendment calls upon the US to 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 India faces immediate needs to maintain its heavily Russian-built weapons systems, a waiver to sanctions under CAATSA during this transition period is in the best interests of the US and the US-India defense partnership to deter aggressors in light of Russia and China’s close partnership, it says.

“As China escalates its aggression along the Indian-Chinese border, the oldest democracy in the world must stand with the largest democracy world to send an unequivocal signal that sovereignty and international law must be respected,” Khanna stated Thursday.

Read: Ro Khanna wants India to pick sides in Russia’s Ukraine war (March 24, 2022)

“This historic amendment will strengthen the US-India defense partnership and ensure that India does not face crippling sanctions at a time when we need to build the alliance.”

“It is the most significant and urgent initiative to build the US-India relationship. I am hopeful my colleagues will pass it on a bipartisan basis,” Khanna added.

Khanna’s amendment says “It is the sense of Congress 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.”

“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,” its adds.

“The Congress finds that 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 United States and India 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 says.

Read: Give CAATSA waiver, deepen defence and energy ties with India: US Congressmen (July 7, 2022)

“Congress recognizes that India faces immediate and serious regional border threats from China, with continued military aggression by the Government of China along the India-China border, 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,” the amendment says.

“While India faces immediate needs 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,” it adds.

Read: Sanders camp quietly pushes Ro Khanna presidential bid: Report (March 18, 2022)

Read: Ro Khanna against embroiling US military in needless conflict (March 3, 2022)

Read: Why America must do more to help India: Ro Khanna (May 19, 2021)

Read: Ro Khanna: Two challenges before America after Capitol riot (January 14, 2021)

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