US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that India will 'soon find out' about his decision on the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA sanctions after India striked a USD 5 billion with Russia to purchase the much-vaunted S-400 air defence system deal.
Under the CAATSA which was signed into law last year, India is subject to sanctions now that it has entered into an agreement with Russia to purchase S-400 Triumf missile defense system in USD 5.4 billion, which is considered by the US as a significant purchase.
CAATSA gives the Trump administration more ways to target Russia, Iran and North Korea with economic and political sanctions.
India last week inked a USD 5 billion deal to purchase S-400 Triumf air defence system from Moscow. The mega deal was sealed in New Delhi during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin for the annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Asked about the agreement between India and Russia, Trump while interacting with reporters in the Oval Office of the White House, said, "India will find out. Aren't they?"
"India is going to find out,” he reiterated in response to India specific question.
Asked when, he said, "You will see. Sooner than you think."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also in the room when Trump answered the question on CAATSA sanctions. Pompeo was scheduled to meet the president later.
Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis had earlier argued the case for a waiver to India.
Last week, the White House had said that the US presidential waiver on weapons deal with sanctions-hit Russia is intended to "wean" countries like India off the Russian equipment.
"The (CAATSA presidential) waiver is narrow, intended to wean countries off Russian equipment and allow for things such as spare parts for previously-purchased equipment," a White House National Security Council Spokesperson had said after the conclusion of the S-400 contract.
The US embassy spokesperson in New Delhi had said that the CAATSA was aimed at Moscow and not intended to damage the military capabilities of its "allies and partners."
Earlier last month, the US had used CAATSA to impose sanctions on Chinese entities for purchase of S-400. Friends of India in the US hope that New Delhi will receive a presidential waiver, given that Trump Administration has recognised India as a major defense partner and is in advance stage of selling billions of dollars’ worth of equipment to India in the next few years.
The S-400 missile defense system is intended to give India's defence sector a cutting-edge security against any missile attack by its enemies.
The National Defense Authorization ACT (NDDA) 2019 gives president the power to waive of the CAATSA sanctions if it is national security interest. It also lists out several other options for presidential waiver, prominent among which is the purchase country – India in this case –is taking or will take steps to reduce its inventory of major defense equipment and advanced conventional weapons produced by the defense sector of the Russian Federation as a share of its total inventory of major defense equipment and advanced conventional weapons over a specified period.
In fact, over the last more than a decade, India the top arms purchaser of the world, has gradually reduced its dependence on Russian arms. It now stands at about 60 percent, which is much lower than it was a decade ago. United States has been a major beneficiary of this.
As part of its diversification plan, India has increased its purchase of arms from the US from about zero to more than USD 18 billion. India is in the process of purchasing arms and equipment worth billions of dollars from the United States in the coming months and years including armed and unarmed drones and fighter jets.
A presidential waiver can also be given if a country like India in this case is cooperating with the United States government on other security matters that are critical to United States strategic interests.
The Russian Embassy in US tweeted that that the delivery of S-400 will begin in October.