Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday cleared the air on a controversial defence pact with the US that empowers Washington to inspect sensitive Indian military installations where US-sold equipment is deployed.
He said there was no provision in the end-use monitoring agreement (EUMA) for on-site inspections or granting of access to any military site or sensitive areas.
The PM told Lok Sabha there was no provision in the EUMA for any unilateral action by the US.
He said, “India has the sovereign right to jointly decide the verification procedure. Any verification has to follow a request, it has to be on a mutually acceptable date and at a mutually acceptable venue.”
The UPA had found itself pushed into a corner in the Parliament over EUMA, with the Opposition accusing it of kowtowing to the US and compromising India’s sovereignty.
The PM assured the House that the government had taken all precautions to safeguard India’s sovereignty. “Nothing in the text compromises India’s sovereignty,” Singh said while making a statement arising out of his recent foreign visits.
He said India and the US had entered into end-use monitoring arrangements in the 1990s for the import of high-technology defence equipment from Washington.
Singh said successive Indian governments negotiated these agreements in a case-by-case basis. “What we have now agreed with the US is a generic formulation which will apply to future supplies… We have introduced an element of predictability in what is otherwise an ad hoc case-by-case negotiation.”
He said India needed access to cutting edge technologies for the modernisation of its defence forces.
“The threats to the country are growing and we need to have the capability to deal with them. Our armed forces are entitled to the best equipment available anywhere in the world,” Singh said, adding that it was in India’s interest to diversify the sources of defence imports.
The PM said all governments, including the Indian government, were particular about the end use to which exported defence equipment and technologies were put to and for preventing them from falling into wrong hands.