WASHINGTON (CN) – U.S. firms may send sensitive missile technology to nine Indian entities without applying for an export license, under new U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security rules. The Indian entities are civil space, defense and high tech research centers developing a missile capable of striking targets anywhere in Pakistan and China.
President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh issued a bilateral statement in November announcing deeper ties between the two countries, particularly in the trade of high-technology defense items and the support of the U.S. for India’s bid to obtain a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
The Bureau of Industry and Security also has removed India from the list of nations considered not to be cooperating with international protocols on the control of nuclear, chemical and biological and missile technology, which changes the agency’s presumption of denial of applications for export licenses in those areas to a neutral consideration of the application.
The principal beneficiary of these changes is Bharat Dynamics Limited, the manufacturer of the Agni Intercontinental Range Ballistic Missile used by the Indian Army, four sub units of the Indian Space Research Organization, and four subunits of the Defense Research and Development Organization.
The project the nine entities are working on is the Agni V intercontinental ballistic missile, which is expected to have a range of up to 3,500 miles, giving the Indian armed forces the ability to strike targets anywhere in Pakistan and as far away as Beijing, China.
The Times of India reported in February that the Indian Ministry of Defense hopes to test fire the Agni V early this year.