The US House of Representatives is likely to pass a defence budget legislation where India is likely to miss out on being a NATO+ group of arms buyer which would have placed New Delhi on the same fast-track platform like any NATO member for acquiring sophisticated arms from the US.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, this will definitely end the efforts to place New Delhi into that category in 2020, as the US Senate’s defence bill for the coming fiscal, passed late June, also did not contain that clause. The reason believed for the Indian omission from the elite list is Delhi’s planned purchase of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.
If passed, the provision would have expedited the procurement of major defence purchases by reducing the current 30-day period for US Congress to raise objections or block them under the Arms Export Control Act to 15 days, a privilege Washington exclusively reserves for NATO+5 nations.
This is not the same as countries designated Major non-NATO allies, which New Delhi has rejected because the group also includes Pakistan. India will stay in the 30-day clearance category, for now, or until 2021, by which time both countries would have seen off issues surrounding India’s S-400 deal.
The Russian S-400 Missile defence System proved to be the main reason for blocking India’s elevation into the NATO+ group. The National Defence Authorization Act also endeavours to punish Turkey, a NATO ally, for acquiring the same Russian S-400 system.
A person familiar with the discussion, according to Hindustan Times, said how could the same legislation oppose a NATO ally’s purchase of S-400 and move India to the NATO+ category, effectively rewarding it, for also purchasing those systems.