US asks India to scrap S-400 Triumf missile deal with Russia or risk CAATSA sanctions

Speaking on India's S-400 defence missile deal with Russia, a senior State Department official said in a conference call on Friday that this was the time when the US will be encouraging India to look at alternatives.

US asks India to scrap S-400 Triumf missile deal with Russia or risk CAATSA sanctions

Ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to India next week, Washington has asked India to scrap the S-400 Triumf defence missile deal with Russia or risk facing CAATSA sanctions. Passed in 2017, the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is a US law that imposed sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran. Speaking on India's S-400 defence missile deal with Russia, a senior State Department official said in a conference call on Friday that this was the time when the US will be encouraging India to look at alternatives.

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Responding to a query on the S-400 issue, the official said that the US has been urging India to forego transactions with Russia that risk triggering the CAATSA sanctions. The official added that the Donald Trump administration has taken great steps to enhance its military interoperability with India as well as the quality and quantity of the defence technology relations.

Speaking on US' defence pacts with India the official said that the US offered the armed UAV Sea Guardian to India, making the country the first non-treaty partner to be offered that high technology. The official also added that the US also announced during the last 2+2 meeting in September 2019, US eased the process and granted India Strategic Trade Authorisation Tier-1 status, which gives India the same licence-free access to defence articles as US' NATO allies--Japan, South Korea, and Australia. 

It concluded by saying that the US will be encouraging India to look at alternatives.

"With respect to S-400, I mean, we’re urging all of our allies and partners, India included, to forego transactions with Russia that risk triggering the CAATSA sanctions. And this administration has taken great steps to enhance our military interoperability with India, to finalize groundbreaking enabling agreements that allow us to do more together militarily, and has also taken steps to enhance the quality and quantity of our defence technology relations," said the US official.

"And you’ve seen the administration take the unprecedented step of offering the armed UAV Sea Guardian to India, the first non-treaty partner to be offered that high technology, and at the same time as we announced during the last 2+2 meeting in September of last year, we’ve eased the process and granted India Strategic Trade Authorization Tier-1 status that gives them the same license-free access to defence articles as our NATO allies, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. So I think this is the time where we will be encouraging India to look at alternatives." added the official.

The official was giving a preview of Pompeo's visit, scheduled from June 25-27, which will be the first high-level visit from a Trump administration official after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in for his second term in May. His visit comes ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and PM Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29.

During his visit, Pompeo will meet PM Modi and External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar, whom the official described as one of the visionaries behind the expansion of the US-India strategic partnership. The official said that the visit aims to deepen and broaden the bilateral relationship and kick-start a dialogue towards the resolution of some key issues.