Days after UNHRC report against India, US pulls out, passes bill aiming at enhanced defense ties with India

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United States withdraws from UNHRC, calls it ‘protector of rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias’

The US Senate on Wednesday passed a $716 billion defence bill seeking to strengthen ties with India, dubbed as a Major Defence Partner in 2016. The Major Defence Partner recognition gives India the power to buy more sensitive and advanced technologies from America ensuring further cooperation in future decisions.

The bill is divided into two different versions, which will head for separate conferences between Senate and the House. Once an identical version is agreed upon, the House and the Senate will have to vote again before the bill is passed to President Donald Trump.

Passed by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 85-10, The National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2019 “expresses the sense of the Senate that the US should strengthen and enhance its major defence partnership with India”.

The Senate version gives authorization of 5.2 billion to the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund and 350 million to the Coalition Support Funds for reimbursement of support provided to or in connection with US military operations.

It also authorizes 300 million for training and equipment to the Syrian opposition for counter operations on ISIS. To strengthen US-Israel ties, it authorizes 500 million for missile defence cooperation and 50 million for counter tunnel cooperation.

ALSO READ: United States withdraws from UNHRC, calls it ‘protector of rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias’

The Senate has also, amid expected clashes between the Congress and the White House, reinstated trade restrictions on ZTE. The bill emits the sense of promoting sanctions against Turkey should Turkey decide to purchase the S-400 air defence system from Russia, under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act.

“Importantly, this legislation would also ensure that neither ZTE nor Huawei will be eligible for government contracts in the future.To further prioritise our national security, I also supported the inclusion of a bipartisan CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) bill similar to what we passed in the Banking Committee to ensure that foreign investments in the US do not pose a national security risk,” Senator Mark Warner said, reported the PTI.

A pilot programme is included in the bill for determining the authenticity and security of microelectronic parts in weapons systems by testing machine-based inspections instead of humans.

Senator Sherrod Brown stated that the bill would give tools to export control agencies and CFIUS for ensuring that the investments would slip through.

The bill has also called out China’s illegal creation and fortification of islands in South China Sea for military purposes and stops it from procuring sensitive technology from its companies.

Senator Jim Inhofe has said, “The NDAA counters Russia’s growing aggression and influence across Eastern Europe by directing a study on permanently stationing US forces in Poland and conducting a study on Russia’s malign influence around the world.”

The bill arrives at a time when the UN published a 49 page report on the human rights atrocities committed by armed forces in Kashmir, emitting a response from the Indian Government that it was ‘fallacious, tendentious and motivated’ and with Barkha Dutt, a noted Indian journalist, dubbing it as ‘airy fairy’.


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