S-400 deal: US says sanctions waiver intended to 'wean' nations off Russia

New Delhi, Oct 6: After India formally signs the mega USD 5.4 billion S-400 missile defense deal with Russia, which places it in the bracket of a potential American sanction, the Trump administration said the presidential waiver granted by the Congress in this regard is narrow and intended to wean countries off of Russian equipment."The (CAATSA presidential) waiver is narrow, intended to wean countries off of Russian equipment and allow for things such as spare parts for previously-purchased equipment," a White House National Security Council Spokesperson said after India entered into an agreement to purchase state of the art S-400 missile defense system.The S-400 missile defense system would give India's defense a cutting-edge security against any missile attack by its enemies."India lives in a very turbulent and nuclear-powered region. S-400 provides that assurance and is compatible with its current platform. Friends understand that these discussions with Russia started several years ago hence I do not believe the US will impose sanction on India," Mukesh Aghi, president of US India Strategic and Partnership Forum said.But for the presidential waiver, Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act or CAATSA sanctions kicks in the event of a major purchase like S-400 missile defense system. Ahead of the deal, the US had urged India not to purchase S-400. It reiterated Friday."The Administration has indicated that a focus area for the implementation of CAATSA Section 231 is new or qualitative upgrades in capability including the S-400 air and missile defense system," the White House NSC Spokesperson said.Last month, US had imposed sanctions on China for the purchase of S-400 from Russia."Our recent action to sanction a Chinese government entity for an S-400 delivery underscores the seriousness of our resolve on this issue," the spokesperson said."The waiver authority is not country-specific. There are strict criteria for considering a waiver," said the spokesperson.The State Department, which is tasked with reviewing the deal and initiated the process of sanctions or waiver under CAATSAA, and then recommend to the president, did not respond to the question on the time frame and the process.However, one industry source told PTI that the law is ambiguous about "when a waiver is necessary so this can be avoided for years."  -- PTI