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R-Day gift from US: Ban on ISRO, DRDO lifted

January 25, 2011 09:42 IST

Meeting the long pending Indian demand, the Barack Obama administration on the eve of India's Republic Day removed from its entities as many as nine India space and defence related companies, including those from the Indian Space Research Organisation and Defence Research and Development Organisation.

"Today's action marks a significant milestone in reinforcing the US-India strategic partnership and moving forward with export control reforms that will facilitate high technology trade and cooperation," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said after a federal notification was issued in the federal registry.

The notification comes week ahead of the high-profile visit of a US trade delegation led by Locke to New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. This is the first step to implement the export control policy initiative announced by US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 8, 2010.

The entities being removed are: Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), the four remaining subordinates of the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO): Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Defense Research and Development Lab (DRDL), Missile Research and Development Complex; Solid State Physics Laboratory; and the four remaining subordinates of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant (SPROB), Sriharikota Space Centre (SHAR), and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).

Removal from the Entity List eliminates a license requirement specific to the companies, and results in the removed companies being treated the same way as any other destination in India for export licensing purposes, the Commerce Department said in a statement.

The notification removes India from several country groups in the Export Administration Regulations resulting in the removal of export license requirements that were tied to India's placement in those country groups.

It further adds India to a country group in the EAR that consists of members of the Missile Technology Control Regime, to recognise and communicate India's adherence to the regime, the US-India strategic partnership, and India's global non-proliferation standing.

"These changes reaffirm the US commitment to work with India on our mutual goal of strengthening the global non-proliferation framework," said Under Secretary of Commerce Eric L Hirschhorn.

Obama during his India visit had assured India that he would remove these companies from the entities list.

"Commensurate with India's nonproliferation record and commitment to abide by multilateral export control standards, the United States will remove all civil space and defence-related entities from the Department of Commerce "Entity List."

Inclusion on this list generally triggers an export license requirement for items that otherwise do not require an export license," said a fact sheet issued by the White House during the Obama visit.

In February, Secretary Locke will lead 24 US businesses on a high-tech trade mission to India. The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM) and the Trade Development Agency (TDA), will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Lalit K Jha in Washington