2ND LEAD (Update)

India set to become Israel-like ally to USA

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 July 2019, 23:26 GMT]
The US Senate passed a legislative provision last week to upgrade the military ‘strategic partner’ relationship with India on a par with NATO allies and countries like Israel and South Korea, media reports in India highlighted on Tuesday. The US Senate approval has taken place as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year of 2020. The bill would be signed into law once it also gets the approval of the House of Representatives later this month. When the status is also ‘recognised’ by India, the country could be officially designated as a Major non-NATO ally (MNNA) through a Presidential Determination with a 30-day notice to the Congress. Eighteen countries including Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand already have the MNNA military relationship with the USA. The listing and de-listing requires designation by the US President.

Pakistan was designated as USA's MNNA in 2004. But, that country is not treated as an MNNA from 2017.

The authority to terminate a country as an MNNA resides with the US President who is required to issue a 30-days notification to the US Congress.

Also, designating a country as the MNNA requires satisfaction on three points: a 30-days notification to Congress prior to termination of designation; consistency with the purposes of the Foreign Assistance Act(FAA); and/or consistency with the Arms Export Control Act (AECA; Title 22 US Code § 2751).

The latest move to upgrade its strategic partnership with India seems to be promoted by the USA to lock India permanently into the evolving Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) alliance in the Indo-Pacific, a military alliance with ambitions to checkmate the increasing influence of China and the expansion of Chinese People's Liberation Army in the region.

A future MNNA designation would enable India access a lot of US military and financial advantages, which are only available to NATO member states and other MNNA countries.

The United States designated India as a Major Defense Partner (MDP) in 2016.

The US would be using the latest offer of upgrade from MDP to MNNA to influence India to drop its parallel military and trade dealings with countries such as Russia and Iran, political observers in Jaffna said.

In April 2019, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers proposed “United States-India Enhanced Cooperation Act of 2019” (Bill HR 2123), which is yet to be enacted into law.

In June 2019, Democrat Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator John Cornyn, sought to amend necessary provisions for an upgrade through the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year 2020.

The amendment provides for increased US-India defence cooperation in the Indian Ocean.

The relevant section from the annual NDAA, which was passed by the US Senate on 27 June 2019, follows:


It is the sense of the Senate that the United States should strengthen and enhance its major defense partnership with India and work toward the following mutual security objectives:

  1. Expanding engagement in multilateral frameworks, including the quadrilateral dialogue among the United States, India, Japan, and Australia, to promote regional security and defend shared values and common interests in the rules-based order.

  2. Increasing the frequency and scope of exchanges between senior civilian officials and military officers of the United States and India to support the development and implementation of the major defense partnership.

  3. Exploring additional steps to implement the major defense partner designation to better facilitate interoperability, information sharing, and appropriate technology transfers.

  4. Pursuing strategic initiatives to help develop the defense capabilities of India.

  5. Conducting additional combined exercises with India in the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean, and western Pacific regions.

  6. Furthering cooperative efforts to promote stability and security in Afghanistan.

* * *

Excerpts from the address made by Republican Senator John Cornyn from Texas:

“I'm hopeful that the final version of this Bill will include a provision I introduced to enhance our relationship with India. In 2016, the United States designated India as a Major Defense Partner which seeks to elevate our defense partnership with India to the same level as that of our closest allies.

“Since then, we have taken a number of steps to strengthen our defense relationship such as establishing ministerial dialogue, increasing arm sales, and the first U.S.-India Tri-Service Exercise later this year.

“As Cochair of the Senate India Caucus, I continue to advocate for policies that strengthen our ties with india both militarily and otherwise.

“I introduced legislation that requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress on U.S.-India Defense Cooperation in the Western Indian Ocean within 180 days of enactment. This will allow us to get a clearer picture of current military activities and will enable the Secretary to enter into military cooperation agreements and conduct regular joint military training and operations with India in the Western Indian Ocean.

“Including this provision in the Defense Authorization Bill would be a major step to bolster U.S.-India ties and strengthen our alliance, which is only fitting for the world's oldest democracy and the world's largest democracy to continue to work more and more closely together.

“As we work to counter increasingly sophisticated adversaries around the world, passing the defense authorization bill this week could not be more important.

“This legislation is integral to ensuring that our military's resourced and trained and ready for action when called upon. That's why for more than 50 years, Congress has made passing the Defense Authorization Bill an annual priority.”

* * *

Currently, eighteen countries have the MNNA status.

Apart from Australia, Egypt, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and New Zealand, the following countries were declared as MNNAs by the US Presidents in the past: Jordan (1996), Argentina (1998), Bahrain (2002), Taiwan (2003), Philippines (2004), Thailand (2004), Kuwait (2004), Morocco (2004), Pakistan (2004), Afghanistan (2012), Tunisia (2015) and Brazil (2019).

External Links:
Congress.gov: S.1790 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020
Congress.gov: H.R.2123 - United States-India Enhanced Cooperation Act of 2019
NDTV: US Senate Passes Proposal To Give India The Same Status As 'NATO Ally'



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