M A I N   N E W S

Defence deal with US: Indian concerns remain
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
Even as the contours of the Indo-US end-user-monitoring-agreement (EUMA) --- that will enable high-end defence equipment to be sold to India -- are yet to be clear, some of the concerns of the Indian armed forces have been addressed.

On the other hand, questions remain unanswered on critical issues that can create problems for national security, hence allegations of surrender to US pressure.

The Defence Ministry today maintained a studied silence as the matter boiled over into fiery debates in both houses of Parliament. A positive note for the Defence Ministry is that its primary fear of not allowing “intrusive physical inspections” by the US at forward bases has been taken care of.

Now, under the agreement, the inspections will be carried out at a date, place and time of India’s choice and not at the forward bases where the equipment may be deployed. For example, the US, in the past, has supplied fire-finding radars. These can be taken from one place to another within a few hours in case any inspection is carried out. Any movable assets like fighter planes and warships can be moved to civil areas. Physical inspections of all defence equipment is mandatory under the US laws. This governs sensitive technology to prevent it from being leaked to other countries.

The third good development for the Defence Ministry is that it wanted that a standard text be framed for all EUMAs in the future and it be insulated from any changes in the US laws. Now this text has been “frozen” and cannot be altered without joint consultations if there is a change in the US laws in the future. As of now, all deals with the US like purchase of INS Jalashwa, Boeing business jets or the long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft have had separate stand-alone EUMAs.

On the other hand, what will affect India is the fact that future upgrades will hinge upon US whim and fancies. In case of Russian equipment, India has been upgrading several items on its own and even has a licence to manufacture these indigenously.

Also India has no guarantee that the US inspectors will not share the data of Indian usage of the equipment with Pakistan or any other country. The EUMAs also bar use of the equipment for aggression. Now this is what has the forces worried. Say if a US company gets to bid to supply fighters, then what use are these planes if they cannot be used aggressively?

Last, each sophisticated equipment has a “source code” that prevents any tampering. It is possible that this “source code” will be used to track movement of Indian forces while they use US-produced planes or ships, said a serving officer, while expressing his reservations on the same. Such inspections have not even been allowed to Russia, India oldest defence ally. The US in past has refused to share the “source code” of F-16 fighters with Israel, its closet defence ally.

Another worrisome aspect is that the US can seek an inspection of equipment that could have some US part/parts in it. This means a large number of deals with Israel - that is now one of the leading suppliers to India - will be covered under this.



Cong reticent on end-user pact
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
The Congress party’s reluctance to comment on the end user monitoring agreement signed with the United States, stemming perhaps from a perceptible unease within the party over the highly contentious issue, became evident after it refused to provide a clear answer on whether or not it supported the government on the pact.

Describing the agreement an issue squarely in the government’s domain, party spokesman Manish Tewari said such issues were best left to experts. Interestingly even though he criticised the opposition BJP for “representing a mindset completely out of line with modern India”, when asked to give the Congress’ reaction, he said: “I have not seen the document”.

“These issues are squarely in the domain of the government….These are not the (sort of) issues that have to be addressed by a political party,” he added. Sources close to the Congress said there were conflicting perceptions on the pact within the party, which was it was reluctant to back the government from an official platform.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |