While the Indian Ministry of Defense has chosen to maintain what one official called a ‘studied silence’ on the controversial End Use Monitoring Agreement, it is no secret that the Indian military is not happy with the pact.
The first objection to the agreement in principle is the ‘infringement of sovereignty’. Officials say the pact would allow intrusive inspections of Indian assets on Indian facilities by US monitors. “Once we buy something, why should the seller retain any right over the equipment we have purchased,” said one senior official. While this line of argument may seem simplistic, considering US law requires end use monitoring to be a condition of sale, the official raises other objections as well.
“This is not just about ensuring that equipment we purchase from them is not being misused, it is also an intelligence-gathering mechanism. It is likely that US intelligence would be part of the inspection teams at some level or the other,” he says.
There are also concerns raised about whether equipment procured from third countries that included US components would be subject to this agreement. “Take the example of the AWACS system we have purchased from Israel. It is entirely possible it has US-built components considering the close military trade relationship between the US and Israel. If that is the case, would the US get the right to inspect those components? This is especially worrying since Israel has become India’s second-largest military vendor,” says the official.
“Except the MiG-35, most of the aircraft in running for the MMRCA (Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft) order would probably have some US-built components or the other, like weapons systems or radars. Would they be subject to inspections by the US?” he asks, calling the statement of the External Affairs Minister SM Krishna in Parliament on Tuesday, ‘skeletal’ and ‘conveying nothing’.
The assertion of the government that ‘India would decided the time and place of inspection’ is also being questioned.
“Even if we do get to choose the time of inspection, we’ll still have to let inspectors into our military bases. We’re not going to drag equipment out on the open road and facilitate the inspection. And what about equipment that is fixed or installed? We’d have to let the inspectors into our sensitive facilities to verify end use of those,” says the official.
Another worry is of innovation. “India has had a tradition of scarcity of resources. We have to squeeze the last drop out of every piece of equipment and resource that we have and optimize its usage. This has required considerable innovation and jugaad on the part of our scientists and troops in terms of technological as well as tactical optimization. The Indian Navy’s missile boat attack on Karachi harbor during the 1971 war with Pakistan is one such example of technological and tactical innovation. The Russians were amazed at the way we used those boats.” Jugaad is an Hindi word, which, while difficult to accurately translate in English, signifies jury-rigging, innovation and/or street-smartness.
“On the other hand, the US builds a new piece of equipment for virtually every purpose. While perhaps now that may change to some small extent with their defense budget cuts, the point is that we would probably be using their equipment more optimally than they do themselves. So they would certainly like to know if about any technological and tactical innovations we manage,” explains the official.
“Naturally, issues of IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) are also relevant here. If India could ever build a quality-assured spare part or component for any equipment procured from the US, it would be able to do it much cheaper, simply because our cost of labor is much lower and because most of our defense industry is still a government-run, technological cost notwithstanding. This is something that the US would again like to ensure against, to maintain the sole-supplier advantage and create a dependency on our part on them,” explains the officer, further adding, “After the sanctions imposed on India after we tested nuclear weapons in 1998, our Sea King helicopters were bereft of spare parts from the suppliers and we had to cannibalize to maintain minimal airworthiness.”
“The Israelis have had problems getting source code for the F-35 Joint Strike Fight (JSF) aircraft they plan to buy from the US. Israel would like to incorporate its own systems into the aircraft for which the source code is required. Otherwise, the US could maintain that sole-supplier advantage and, speculation suggests, perhaps even monitor the aircraft in real time.. The British and the Australians have faced the same problems in acquiring the F-35,” he says.
Sensitive military technologies are sold by the US under Foreign Military Sales (FMS), while other technologies are direct commercial sales. These are governed by the US Arms Export Control Act (AECA).
An FMS is governed by the US Pentagon’s Golden Sentry verification system direct commercial sales are governed by the Blue Lantern program.
Under the Golden Sentry program there are teams designated ‘Tiger Teams’ that undertake visits to the buyer/host country to conduct verification of equipment
The purpose of the Tiger Team visits is to ‘assess USG representatives and host nations’ compliance with transfer provisos and other conditions of sales, and/or to follow-up potential violations of the AECA, FAA, or other transfer agreements, e.g., compliance visits’. The idea is to ‘assess a specific country team or regional command’s overall EUM compliance program and a country’s compliance with specific physical security and accountability agreements through facility visits, records review, and review of local security policies and procedures’. It is also intended to ‘conduct routine or special inventories of U.S.-origin defense articles and/or services’ and appraise possible violations of the AECA, FAA, and/or other transfer instruments, e.g., Bi/Multi-Lateral Memoranda of Agreement or Understanding and other Implementing Agreements’.
‘The Blue Lantern program is established under Section 40A of the AECA to monitor the end-use of commercially exported defense articles, services, and related technical data subject to licensing under Section 38 of the AECA.
Blue Lantern end-use monitoring entails pre-license or post-shipment checks undertaken to verify the legitimacy of a transaction and to provide “reasonable assurance that –
i) the recipient is complying with the requirements imposed by the United States Government with respect to use, transfers, and security of the defense articles and defense services; and
ii) ii) such articles and services are being used for the purposes for which they are provided.” ‘