The Bush administration has decided to impose sanctions on two Indian firms for missile-related transactions with Iran, US officials said on Thursday.
The disclosure came hours after the US House of Representatives late Wednesday overwhelmingly agreed the United States should sell nuclear technology to India and rejected a move by critics to delay the vote over concerns New Delhi had not sufficiently aided US efforts to contain Iran.
Under terms of the US Iran-Syria Non-proliferation Act, "we are going to report to Congress about transactions by two private Indian companies with Iran," one official said.
He and another official declined to identify the firms but one official said the transfers involve "dual-use items related to missiles."
While the administration is mandated by law to report violations of the act to Congress every six months, sanctions are discretionary but "they won't be waived" in these cases, the other official said.
The officials did not specify the exact sanctions to be imposed but in previous cases, sanctioned companies were barred from receiving US government contracts, assistance or military trade as well as certain controlled goods which have both civilian and military purposes.
Congressional critics had accused the administration of withholding any conclusive word on possible sanctions until after the vote on the nuclear deal, so the issue would not affect the vote.
The nuclear agreement is viewed as the cornerstone of an evolving new strategic alliance between India and the United States, former Cold War adversaries.
The administration has repeatedly defended India as having an excellent record of protecting sensitive technology.
According to lawmakers, the United States since 2003 has filed at least eight non-proliferation sanctions against at least seven Indian companies or persons, including two sanctions in December 2005. The new sanctions would add to that tally.