The US has now conferred on India, the status of ‘major defence partner’ which gives India access to 99% of the American defence technologies, informed a senior official of the Obama administration. India is the only country outside of the allies that have entered into a formal treaty with the US over defence co-operation, that will be granted the status of major defence partner.
Last week, John McCaine, a senior American leader had moved an amendment in the Senate, to make India a strategic and defence partner. The Senate rejected this bill. The news of India getting access to 99% of US defence technologies has been revealed while the rejection of the amended bill is still fresh.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, a joint statement was issued following his talks with President Obama. The statement made it clear that India would be granted the status of ‘major defence partner’. This was indeed a special status and the US had not granted such a status to any other country, said a senior White House official of the Obama administration.
Explaining the significance of this status, the official said that it was going to strengthen the defence partnership shared by the two countries. President Obama and the Secretary of State, Ashton carter had both endorsed this India-specific policy. A product of work over a few years, this policy would open for India, access to 99% of the US defence technologies, he added.
As a matter of US policy, no country is allowed access to a certain area of US technologies. However, the status of major defence partner would give to India access to technologies for the most part, including the very advanced type, the official stated, highlighting also, that the US had denied this kind of access even to its close allies.
The US had, in the past, clearly refused India, access to its technology. The perception that prevailed in India was that that reflected the kind of relationship the countries shared but that was far from the truth and the status of major defence partner more than proved it, the official claimed.
Last week, top senator John MacCaine had moved an amendment to the National Defence Authorization Act 2017 (NDAA), which if passed, would have made India a global strategic and defence partner of the US, thus opening to it, important technologies of the US, McCaine said. The bill was rejected in the Senate. However, this provision apparently has already been made while granting India the status of major defence partner.
The bilateral ties between India and the US have grown considerably over the past few years. The two countries also share a strong defence co-operation. The US is even helping India build aircraft carriers. Experts on India-US relations therefore feel that this status of major defence partner is not at all a sudden decision. The ‘Defence technology and trade initiative’ (DTTI) is also another such unique programme shared by the two countries and American experts say that the US has not co-operated with any other country at the level that programmes shared with India exhibit.