In October 2018, despite US warnings of sanctions, India signed a $ 5 billion deal with Moscow to purchase 5 units of the Russian-made Triumph S-400 indigenous air defense system. Russia confirmed that India made the first $ 800 million payment tranche in November 2019 to deliver the first batch of S-400 air defense systems by the end of 2021. Following the clashes between Chinese and Indian forces in June 2020 on the line of actual control, India had asked Russia to expedite delivery of the first batch of S-400 defense systems. When the US announced sanctions against Turkey for its identical defense purchase in December 2020, it raised the question of whether the US would impose similar sanctions on India. This emerging decision to sanction India against purchasing Russian Triumph S-400 missile defense systems re-starts the history of US nuclear sanctions against India and underscores that their bilateral relationship is forged in perpetual ambivalence.
As part of the bilateral agreement between India and the USA on the civil use of atomic energy of 1963, the USA had agreed to participate in the construction of the first Indian electricity reactor in Tarapur and to supply the Tarapur electricity reactor with low-enriched uranium fuel until 1993. After the 1974 Indian nuclear test, the US suspected that the uranium supply for the weapon of the Indian nuclear program was diverted instead of using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
After India’s first underground nuclear test in 1974, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger responded by arguing that “public scolding would not undo the event” and “[w]We were against the spread. “US Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Dixie Lee Ray also wrote to Indian Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) Chairman Homi Sethna, reminding Sethna that the US understanding of the 1963 Agreement did not allow India to attribute technology or material use supplied by the US for a nuclear explosion.
The US gradually took a stricter position by bringing other states together to build on the Zangger Committee Agreement of August 1974 to create a “trigger list” of items not to be passed on to non-signatories of the NPT -NVV) would be exported -Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons), such as India. This also led to the inclusion of the trigger list in the founding of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). In addition, the United States followed countries like Canada, Japan and Sweden to sanction and shame India, while the latter defended the nuclear test as “peaceful” for the civil use of nuclear energy.
In response to the nuclear test in India, then US Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Rush stated: “[t]The Indian test is a setback for non-proliferation. We had made it clear to the Indians that we were resisting a test by them, even what, in this case, was called a peaceful nuclear explosion. “US legislation also relied on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act (NNPA) of 1978 on India, the“ authoriz[es] the United States to take the necessary measures to ensure that it reliably fulfills its obligation to supply nuclear reactors and fuel to states that adhere to effective non-proliferation policies. “
With the expansion of the NNPA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rejected any further delivery of nuclear fuel to Indian reactors in Tarapur, with the Senate voting 46-48 on the rejection decision. While the Carter government briefly approved the delivery of 38 tons of low-enriched uranium to India in 1980, all US nuclear exports to India under the NNPA were soon suspended.
After the five nuclear tests to India in 1998, the U.S. Clinton administration relied on the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the Export-Import Bank Act to curb most foreign aid and end US defense sales. Deny US credits and loans, decline any financial assistance India would seek from international financial institutions, etc. Specifically, the Glenn Amendment to Section 102 of the AECA allowed the President to impose sanctions on a non-nuclear weapons state (as defined by) require NVV) – if the state concerned detonated a nuclear explosive device.
The US also urged other G-8 countries to impose their own sanctions and withholding $ 143 million in aid to India. In the light of the 1998 nuclear tests, President Clinton noted that the US was “categorically against” the tests and that India had made “a terrible mistake” that was “creating”[s] a dangerous new instability in the region. “In fact, India was very close to cementing a permanently Villain Robert Manning, a former US State Department policy advisor, noted that India was now on its way to being a “rogue democracy.” After the 1998 nuclear tests, the Washington Post carried a column entitled “INDIA CHEATED”.
In contrast to the 1974 nuclear test, India did not justify the 1998 tests as “peaceful” but declared itself a nuclear weapon state. In August 1999, a draft report of the National Security Advisory Council established the official Indian nuclear doctrine – based on no-first-use and minimal deterrence policy. In response to the US response to nuclear tests in 1998, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee wrote to the Clinton administration that the reason that forced India to go nuclear was because of the “deteriorating security environment, particularly the nuclear environment”. Scientists have also argued that India’s reluctance to become a nuclear weapons state after the 1974 test can be attributed to the non-violet struggle against British colonial rule during Indian independence.
The harsh US sanctions against India continued until Congress approved the first brownback amendment to the earlier introduction of the Glenn amendment in October 1998. With the first Brownback Amendment (also known as the India-Pakistan Relief Act 1998), President Clinton waived certain economic sanctions against India and Pakistan for a period of one year. Then Congress passed the second brownback amendment, which allowed the president to extend the exemption for the next five years. President Bush finally called for the final lifting of all sanctions against India in 2001 in connection with the 1998 nuclear tests.
In 2003, India and the US signed a joint agreement attempting to “redefine US-India relations” in terms of “democracy, common principles and common interests”. In the years that followed, the United States signed the 123 accord with India, recognizing India’s de facto nuclear status even though India had not signed the NPT. Recently, India and the US held 2 + 2 talks to discuss greater cooperation in space, energy and geospatial information sharing.
Since the US is already warning India of sanctions for purchasing the Triumph S-400 indigenous air defense system made in Russia, India-US relations are at risk of setting the clock back to before 2001. Owing to the frequently re-emerging bilateral fear, the relationship between India and the US has been described as “notoriously insecure”, “not reverting to its maxima” and covered by “mutual frustration”.
The S-400 is considered to be one of the world’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile systems and can attack all types of aerial targets (36 of them simultaneously) at an altitude of 30 km and a range of 400 km. Not only does this pose a threat to the F-35 – America’s most expensive weapon system as a fifth generation stealth fighter – but the S-400 remains a more advanced long-range surface-to-air missile system than the American-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). In addition, the purchase of the S-400 air defense system favors the balance of air power in areas where it is stationed, provides India’s aviation security against a hostile neighborhood, and serves as a strategic antidote to China’s own purchase of the Russian S-400 technology.
The recent US threat of sanctions against India underscores that although the 123 Accord recognized India’s nuclear program since it refused to sign the NPT in 1968, it is still far from maintaining an unproblematic relationship with the US consolidate. Another thing to note is India’s changed reaction to the threatened US sanction. Unlike the 1998 nuclear tests, when Vajpayee wrote a letter to the Clinton administration to explain As a reason for the tests, India’s reaction to the threat of sanctions from the USA has rather restored: “India has always pursued an independent foreign policy [that] applies to [India’s] Defense acquisitions and shipments … led by [India’s] national security interests. ”
Finally, the recently declassified US strategic framework for the Indo-Pacific reiterates the US government’s policy of using India as a counterweight to Chinese ambitions. However, the way the US is managing its response to India against its Russian S-400 deal can be critical to the implementation of this framework. If the Biden administration were to invite sanctions, it would potentially worsen American leverage in South Asia via the Indian partnership and undo recent advances in India-US. Relationships. Alternatively, granting India a waiver would raise US national security issues, the potential encouragement that the waiver would give in the future to other states entering into similar defense treaties, accountability to Indian preferential treatment, and automatically contributing to further deterioration US relations with Turkey.
Further reading on E-International Relations