India will get access to almost 99 per cent of latest US defence technologies after it being recognised as a ‘Major Defence Partner’, according to a senior Obama administration official.
India will be the only country to get such benefits outside Washington’s formal treaty allies.
“India [now] enjoys access to [defence] technologies that are on a par with our treaty allies. That is a unique status. India is the only other country that enjoys that status outside our formal treaty allies,” the official said while explaining what ‘Major Defence Partner’ status means for India.
After a meeting between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House earlier this month, the US had recognised India as a ‘Major Defence Partner’.
“We are looking for something unique. This language you would not find in any arms transfer legislation or any of our existing policies. This is new guidance and new language that is intended to reflect the unique things that we have done with India under our defence partnership,” the official said.
Under this recognition, India will receive a licence-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that New Delhi has committed to take to advance its export control objectives. Acknowledging that the impression in New Delhi was that India was not getting access to the kind of technology it needed from the US, the official said it was a constant source of discussion.
“[In reality], less than one percent of all exports [requests] are denied [to India]. They are not denied because of India. They are denied because of global US licensing policies. We do not share certain technologies with anybody in the world,” the official asserted.
The perception in India that the denial of such technologies is reflective of India-US relationship is far from the truth, the official said.
According to the official, India being recognised as a “major defence partner puts it on par with our treaty allies.” Inside the American bureaucratic system, such a recognition removes a number of major export control hurdles for India.
The category of ‘Major Defence Partner’ was created specifically for India, observed Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a top American think-tank.