While President Bush was announcing a nuclear agreement with India on Thursday, Pentagon officials were promoting more cooperation in areas including military technology.

George Leopold, Contributor

March 2, 2006

2 Min Read

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military is dangling a range of new weapons and technologies before the Indian government as part of a Bush administration plan to expand Indo-U.S. security cooperation.

While President George Bush was announcing a nuclear agreement with Indian officals in New Delhi on Thursday (March 2), Pentagon officials were promoting greater military cooperation in areas like military trade and technology.

Cooperation on weapons development and technology "will serve key objectives of our strategic partnership by helping to build ties among our defense establishments and industries and to develop interoperability among our armed forces," DoD said in a statement on its Indian partnership.

The Bush administration brokered a deal this week to supply India with nuclear technology for both energy and military applications. The deal was announced by the U.S. and Indian leaders on Thursday.

The agreement must still be approved by Congress, which imposed trade sanctions on India in the late 1990s in retaliation for nuclear weapon and missile tests. India has also refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Congressional critics of the India deal maintain that, if approved, it will carve out a special exception for India, will make it easier for India to expand its nuclear arsenal and will set a dangerous precedent.

Other observers suspect the Bush administration is also courting India as a military counterweight to the growing regional power of China.

The Pentagon said cooperation with India means it is preparing to "turn the talk of prospective [weapon] sales into reality."

The DoD statement added: "We see the [F-16] Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition as a prime opportunity to demonstrate the advances and transformation of the U.S.-India relationship."

DoD has offered India both advanced F-16 and F-18 fighters. "Our proposal will also address India's interest in technology transfer and indigenous co-production."

The ability to produce U.S. fighter aircraft indigenously is widely seen as a major boost for a fledgling aerospace industry. In the past, India has purchased MiG fighters from Russian and the former Soviet Union.

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