us-position-on-caatsa-unchanged

Context: The USA has urged its allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Background

  • The Defence Acquisition Council had approved the procurement of 21 MiG-29 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF), an upgrade for 59 of these Russian aircraft and the acquisition of 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft. 
  • Indian and U.S. bureaucrats are scheduled to meet at the India-U.S. Foreign Office Consultations.

USA’s stand unchanged despite changing geopolitics: 

  • Although the USA said that it does not want to degrade the defence capabilities of India which is its ‘Major Defence Partner’, but still the USA wants India to avoid the purchase of Russian arms for its defence.
  • The US recognised India as a “Major Defence Partner” in 2016, a designation that allows India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from America at par with that of the US’ closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation into the future.
  • Change in the Asian geopolitics: It is due to the deadly clash between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) last month. India needs to fortify its defence to counter the Chinese challenge.
  • Strained relationship between US-China: Two American aircraft carriers recently entered the South China Sea and conducted exercises on July 4, the U.S.’s Independence Day.

About CAATSA

  • Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act imposes unilateral sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea, and aims to penalise actions that allegedly threaten American foreign-policy and security interests. 
  • CAATSA was enacted to punish Russia by sanctioning persons engaging in business transactions with the Russian defence sector.  Its main aim is to prevent revenue from flowing to the Russian Government.
  • The U.S. suspended Turkey from its F-35 aircraft programme and barred it from purchasing the jet, following Turkey’s purchase of the S-400. However, these actions were taken without invoking CAATSA.

What sanctions can be imposed?

  • It merely requires the President to “impose five or more of the sanctions described in section 235 (of CAATSA)”. Some of these are:
    • prohibition on loans to the sanctioned person
    • prohibition of Export-Import bank assistance for exports to sanctioned persons 
    • prohibition on procurement by United States Government to procure goods or services from the sanctioned person 
    • denial of visas to persons closely associated with the sanctioned person 

Waiver under CAATSA

  • The U.S. President was given the authority in 2018 to waive CAATSA sanctions on a case-by-case basis as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
  • However, the U.S. has repeatedly stated that India should not assume it will get a waiver in the context of India’s planned purchase of the S-400 Triumf missile defence system from Russia for about $5 billion.

India should remind the US administration and members of the US Congress that the commitment to ameliorate US-India defence and security ties are genuine, even when the two countries disagree.