India might not be exempt from sanctions by the United States if it decides to purchase weapons and defence systems from, according to top officials of the Pentagon.
The comments were made by Randall Schriver, the Pentagon’s top Asia official.
“I would say that is a bit misleading. We would still have very significant concerns if India pursued major new platforms and systems (from Russia),” Schriver said at a think-tank event, according to Reuters news agency.
Following the annexation of Crimea by Russia, sanctions have been imposed on Russia by the United States. This means that any other country or entity that engages in the business of defense or intelligence procurement from Russia would also be liable to face US sanctions.
“I can’t sit here and tell you that they would be exempt, that we would use that waiver, that will be the decision of the president if he is faced with a major new platform and capability that India has acquired from Russia,” Shriver added.
A new US defense regulation which regulation which gives power to the President Donald Trump to exempt countries would form the basis of any possible exemption of the country from US sanctions.
Schriver said that since Trump now has the capacity to apply the waivers does not automatically mean that the president would apply them, despite the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis having earlier said that he strongly propones granting of waiver to India.
India is in the final stages of acquiring S-400 long-range surface to air missile systems from Russia, a deal worth $6bn. It is expected that the agreement would be signed by Russia later this year.
India has bought combat planes, ships and submarines from Russia on earlier occasions and this purchase of the S-400 system would be the latest in a long series of Indian defence purchases form the country.
US is willing to hold negotiations with India about any possible alternatives to the Russian missile system because the US is concerned about this planned purchase, Schriver said.
There are other countries that are also purchasing the state-of-the-art system from Russia. Those include countries such as China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as many of them have already bought or are planning to make a purchase
Turkey’s plans to purchase the Russian missile system has also caused a concern among the US military officials and politicians,
Saudi Arabia in June said that it would consider “all necessary measures” if Qatar purchases weapons from Russia.
Russia will continue to supply the missiles to Qatar despite of the US threats, the country has said. Purchasing the system is a “sovereign” decision, said Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
(Adapted from Aljazeera.com)