US Senate passes bill to strengthen defence ties with India
The US Senate on Tuesday, June 19, passed a defence bill worth $716 billion seeking to strengthen Washington's defence ties with New Delhi.The US designated India as a "Major Defence Partner" in 2016 and it permitted the latter to buy advanced and sensitive technologies from the former.
The bill, named National Defence Authorisation Act, 2019, was passed by the senate with 85 votes for it as against 10 against it. Senate Armed Services Committee chairperson John McCain said the legislation continued the US's reform agenda and helped in positioning the defence department and the joint force to carry out the National Defense Strategy by means of restoring readiness, rebuilding capacity and modernising capabilities.
The bill, besides cementing its defence partnership with India, also proposed sanctions on Turkey, a member of the Nato, if it bought S-400 air defence system from Russia, which the US targets under its CAATSA law. This move is, however, significant since India too concluded negotiations with Russia over buying the same air defence system, irrespective of the US's opposition.
The bill also reimposed penalties on ZTE, the Chinese telecom giant which the Donald Trump administration had given a relief recently. The company's operations received a setback in the recent past after Washington barred American firms from carrying out any transaction with it owing to its alleged dealings with Iran and North Korea.
The bill though is yet to cover some distance before becoming a law. The US House of Representatives has passed a different version of the bill and it will be seen now whether the Senate and the House agree on a single version. If they do, the two houses will vote separately again on the bill and it will be sent to President Trump for his approval.