US Defence Secretary Bats For National Security Waiver To India

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Washington: Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday appealed to the Congress to urgently provide India the national security waiver, saying imposing sanctions on it under a newly-enacted law for buying the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia would only hit the US.

During a Congressional hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis told American lawmakers that the national security waiver should be urgently provided to India and other countries which are trying to turn away from formerly Russian-sourced weapons to avoid sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

CAATSA, which was signed into law in August 2017 and went into effect in January this year, mandates the Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence sectors of Russia. India is currently in an advance stage of negotiations with Russia for five S-400 system worth an estimated USD 4.5 billion.

The CAATSA issue was also raised by Senator Tom Cotton. You mentioned two specific countries, India and Vietnam, that have legacy Russian systems. They might face real challenges going cold turkey, so to speak, under CAATSA, he said.

Top American lawmakers and experts have warned that imposition of sanctions on India under a newly-enacted law if it buys the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia could be disastrous for the Indo-US ties. At an event on the Capitol Hill, experts and lawmakers yesterday warned that any imposition of sanctions on India, which is now a major defence partner, could be disastrous for the bilateral relationship and as such there is an urgent need to prevent that from happening.

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