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ISRO steps up efforts to get US sanctions lifted

Though six institutions were in the entity list, three were removed due to the recent efforts of Bush and Manmohan.

india Updated: May 09, 2006 22:45 IST

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is stepping up efforts to lift US sanctions against its three main facilities, a top ISRO official said on Tuesday.

"Though six institutions were in the entity list in the wake of sanctions, three were removed due to the recent efforts of US President George Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh," ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair told reporters at an official function.

Nair, however, admitted that ISRO's three other main facilities - the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Kerala, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Andhra Pradesh and the Liquid Propulsion Centre in Tamil Nadu - were still under the technology embargo list.

"There is a willingness on both sides to improve the cooperation in sharing high-tech knowledge. The current visit of NASA administrator Michael Griffin will encourage improvement in our space commerce activities in the coming years."

An agreement was signed with NASA for including two of ISRO's scientific instruments on board India's first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, scheduled for launch in early 2008.

Griffin said he was sorry about the past when asked whether his visit to two of the three facilities (VSSC and SDSC), which were still in the entity list, would facilitate the lifting of sanctions.

"I think there was a period of time between our two countries when because of the NPT (nuclear proliferation treaty) and other factors, the ability to cooperate in technical matters was less strong than it is today.

"But the visit of Bush to India and of Manmohan Singh to the US to resolve various issues had greatly contributed to the possibility of increased cooperation in space and high technology," Griffin said.

The India-US space cooperation, dating back to 1963 when an atmospheric experiment was carried on the US-made Nike-Apache from Thumba, suffered a setback in mid-1998 after the Pokhran nuclear tests, leading to the imposition of sanctions by the Bill Clinton administration.

During Bush's second term, the relations in high-tech areas, especially in civilian nuclear and civil space, however, warmed up after the US lifted the sanctions and entered into bilateral agreements for greater cooperation.