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|December 17, 1999||
US yanks 51 Indian entities off sanctions list
C K Arora in Washington
The Clinton administration has set in motion the process of lifting the sanctions against India.
It has ordered removal of 51 Indian entities from the list of over 200 entities which the US had originally sanctioned, in protest against India's May 1998 nuclear tests, denying them technology and other facilities.
Assistant Secretary for Export Administration Roger Majak, who made the announcement in Washington Thursday night, said the order would take effect after a rule is published in the Federal Register.
The 51 freed entities include a host of ordnance factories, scientific institutions, Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
"The action is based on a consensus decision by the administration to focus, more tightly, the sanctions on those Indian entities most directly involved in proliferation activities of concern," says an official press release.
Removal of the entities from the list will make it easier for them to obtain US goods and technology -- especially non-sensitive products that ordinarily to do not require an export licence for India.
(In Bombay, a spokesperson of the TIFR told rediff.com that there was no official information yet. He refused to elaborate on how exactly the institute would gain in the changed circumstances. "We need to discuss this with the purchase department," he said.)
The Clinton administration, however, made it clear, that the US policy of denial of dual-use items controlled for nuclear and missile technology reasons to all Indian and Pakistani entities remained unchanged.
Recent Congressional action supports today's decision. The fiscal year 2000 Defensc Appropriations Act states that the list of nearly 300 Indian and Pakistani sanctioned entities is too broad and requires refinement. The Act also states that the exports of only items that make material contributions to weapons of mass destruction and missile programmes should be restricted.
"Today's action involves no changes in the items subject to sanctions -- which includes many routine items -- for entities remaining on the list. The administration will continue to review both the list of sanctioned entities and products, and may make additional changes," the press release said.
India welcomes move
Media reports said India welcomed the US move to ease sanctions. ''It is our expectation that it will lead to the complete abolition of this restrictive list,'' an external affairs ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.
India, he stressed, has always maintained that unilateral restrictive measures against it were ''unjustified and counter-productive''.
He recalled that when the entities list was announced by the US government, New Delhi had expressed serious reservations and indicated that it was over-broad in its reach and coverage. Washington's decision comes close on the heels of US Congress advice that the entity list should be reviewed, a move welcomed by India. ''The dropping of 51 Indian entities is, in that context, a step in the right direction.''
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