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S-400 missile deal: Will India be granted waiver from CAATSA?

By Vikas

New Delhi, Sep 3: Despite threat of sanctions by the United States, India is likely to go ahead with the purchase of S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems from Russia. New Delhi is likely to convey this to Washington during the much-awaited 2+2 dialogue on strategic affairs between the US and India, set to be held on on September 6.

India likely to go ahead with S-400 missile purchase: Will India be granted waiver from CAATSA?

The US has imposed military sanctions against Russia under stringent CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). This also extends to countries that engage with Russia in defence matters. US' stand effectively means that any country that engages in defence or intelligence sharing with Russia could also be subject to sanctions.

Also Read | India set to acquire S-400 missile system from Russia: What makes it better than US made Patriot?

On June 5, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the negotiations between India and Russia to finalise the deal was in the concluding stage and will not be affected by CAATSA which is aimed at Washington's three foes of Russia, Iran and North Korea.

On one hand India wants these missiles to strenghthen defence capabilities, but at the same time does not want to sour relations with the US. India would hope that the Trump administration grants exemption to India under CAATSA. The waiver that India may seek will not be an easy decision for the Trump administration to make because of certain sections in the CAATSA legislation.

Also Read | India-Russia S-400 missile deal to go ahead irrespective of US threat

Section 231 the CAATSA legislation requires that the president impose sanctions on any entity that "engages in a significant transaction with the defence or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation".

With the value of the deal being almost Rs 40,000 crore, it definately falls under 'significant transaction' mentioned in CAATSA.

Good news for India is that some sections in the Trump administration want the waiver to be granted to India. Reports say that Secretary of Defence James Mattis is a strong proponent of granting waivers to India.

Also, Section 1294 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provides for the president to exercise the waiver authority established in CAATSA if he can certify that the waiver is fundamentally in US national security interests, some reports say.

A PTI report, while quoting sources, states that India will push for a waiver from the US for the missile deal with Russia, as the air defence system was critical for its security preparedness.

There is also another aspect to this entire deal, and that is US made MIM-104 Patriot which is comparable to S-400 missile system. MIM-104 Patriot is losing market to the Russian weapon system across the globe.

All you need to know about S-400:

The S-400 Triumf is an anti-aircraft weapon system developed in the 1990s by Russia's Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family. It has been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 2007. The S-400 uses four missiles to fill its performance envelope: the very-long-range 40N6 (400 km), the long-range 48N6 (250 km), the medium-range 9M96E2 (120 km) and the short-range 9M96E (40 km). The S-400 was described by The Economist in 2017 as "one of the best air-defence systems currently made."

Also Read | Russia, India to ink deal on S-400 air defence missile systems

Development of the S-400 system began in the late 1980s, and the system was announced by the Russian Air Force in January 1993. On 12 February 1999 the first, reportedly-successful tests were performed at Kapustin Yar in Astrakhan, and the S-400 was scheduled for deployment by the Russian army in 2001.

In 2003, it became apparent that the system was not ready for deployment. In August, two high-ranking military officials expressed concern that the S-400 was being tested with "obsolete" interceptors from the S-300P system and concluded that it was not ready for deployment. Completion of the project was announced in February 2004, and in April a ballistic missile was successfully intercepted in a test of the upgraded 48N6DM missile. In 2007, the system was approved for service.

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