Democratic presidential front-runner Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday slammed President Donald Trump for selling weapons to India, saying that the US should instead partner with New Delhi to fight climate change to save the planet.
Sanders, who has won the Nevada and New Hampshire primaries and tied in Iowa, made the comments after Trump, who is on a two-day visit to India, on Monday announced that the US will sign defence trade deals worth USD 3 billion with India.
In an address at a massive "Namaste Trump" rally at Motera stadium in Ahmedabad, Trump announced that deals to sell state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment worth over USD 3 billion will be sealed with India on Tuesday.
“Instead of selling USD 3 billion in weapons to enrich Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed, the United States should be partnering with India to fight climate change,” Sanders said in a tweet, the first by a Democratic presidential candidate on Trump's India visit.
“We can work together to cut air pollution, create good renewable energy jobs, and save our planet,” he said.
However, a former White House official defended the US' decision to sell arms and weapons to India.
“I'm proud of my service in the White House, in which we poured enormous energy into deepening climate and green tech cooperation w/ India... and also advancing security cooperation and defense sales. I'd like to think both can be part of a strong, values-based partnership,” Joshua White said.
According to the US State Department, India plays a vital role in the US vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
In 2016, the US designated India as a Major Defence Partner. Commensurate with this designation, India in 2018 was granted Strategic Trade Authorization tier 1 status, which allows New Delhi to receive license-free access to a wide range of military and dual-use technologies that are regulated by the Department of Commerce.
Bilateral defence trade with India in a little over a decade has increased from near zero in 2008 to USD20 billion.
Among some of the key foreign military sales notified to Congress include MH-60R Seahawk helicopters (USD2.6 billion), Apache helicopters (USD2.3 billion), P-8I maritime patrol aircraft (USD3 billion), and M777 howitzers (USD737 million).
India was the first non-treaty partner to be offered a Missile Technology Control Regime Category-1 Unmanned Aerial System – the Sea Guardian UAS manufactured by General Atomics.
The State Department is also advocating for the Lockheed Martin F-21 and Boeing F/A-18 – two state of the art fighter aircraft that India is currently evaluating.
These platforms provide critical opportunities to enhance India's military capabilities and protect shared security interests in the Indo-Pacific region, it argued.
Since 2008, the US has also sold to India over USD 6.6 billion in defence articles via the direct commercial sales process, which licenses the export of the defense equipment, services, and related manufacturing technologies controlled under the 21 categories of the US Munitions List (USML). The top categories of DCS to India include aircraft, electronics and gas turbine engines.