Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
On The India-US Defence Agreement

The framework agreement on US-India defence relationship is fraught with serious consequences for India’s strategic and security interests. It will also have a direct bearing on India’s foreign policy.

The UPA government has taken a major step in tying up with the United States to serve the US strategic goals in Asia. If this agreement is carried forward, India will be placing itself in the same category as Japan, South Korea and Philippines – all traditional military allies of the United States.

In 1995, the Narasimha Rao government had signed the first agreement on defence relations that had provided for joint exercises and trading programmes. In the present agreement, it is stated that both defence establishments will “collaborate in multinational operations when it is in their common interest”. There is no mention that it will be under United Nations’ auspices. By this clause, India has agreed to participate in US-led military operations. Further, it is well-known that in such “multinational operations”, troops from other countries will have to be under US command.

It is surprising that the UPA government has continued with the Vajpayee government’s policy with regard to missile defence. The agreement states that both sides will “expand collaboration relating to missile defence”. It is well-known that the United States is actively trying to draw certain countries into its missile defence shield. Japan has already agreed to be part of the system. India is now being drawn into it under the cover of the US providing the Patriot missile system.

Various other clauses in the agreement are aimed at integration of the structures of the two armed forces and to enhance “inter-operatability”.

There is a promise for co-production of defence equipment. This is clearly meant to lure India to buy the F-16 fighter planes and open the market for US weaponry. However, there is no specific commitment for lifting the curbs on supply of high technology.

It is unfortunate that the Indian government does not view security issues in Asia as those which can be discussed and resolved among the Asian countries, but seeks to advance US interests in the region. Countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia had announced that they will cooperate to ensure the security of the sea lanes in their region. The US interest in getting the Indian Navy to patrol the Malacca straits and other international seas as part of its Proliferation Security Initiative is implicit in this agreement.

The defence agreement comes at a time when the United States is actively working to prevent China from enhancing its defence potential. What is unstated in this agreement is the US aim of containment of China using India as a counter-weight.
There is no mention of this sort of security and defence partnership with the United States in the section on “Defence” in the Common Minimum Programme. Nor has the UPA government seen whether it is in consonance with the commitment to pursue an independent foreign policy and promoting multi-polarity in international relations which is stated in the Common Minimum Programme. The UPA government has taken this step without any public debate and discussions within the country.