India-U.S. Defence Deal: Bernie Sanders Slams Donald Trump For Selling Weapons To India

Instead of signing a $3 billion India-U.S. defence deal, Sanders says Washington should partner New Delhi to fight climate change.

Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and 2020 presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. (Photographer: Joe Buglewicz/Bloomberg)  
Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and 2020 presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. (Photographer: Joe Buglewicz/Bloomberg)  

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has slammed U.S. President Donald Trump for selling weapons to India, saying that Washington D.C. 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 a $3 billion India-U.S. defence deal.

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 $3 billion will be sealed with India on Tuesday.

“Instead of selling $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.”

A former White House official defended the India-U.S. defence deal.

“I'm proud of my service in the White House, in which we poured enormous energy into deepening climate and green tech cooperation with India...and also advancing security cooperation and defence sales. I'd like to think both can be part of a strong, values-based partnership,” Joshua White said.

According to the U.S. State Department, India plays a vital role in the country’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

In 2016, the U.S. designated India as a major defence partner. Commensurate with this, India in 2018 was granted Strategic Trade Authorization Tier 1 status that allows New Delhi to receive license-free access to a wide range of military and dual-use technologies that are regulated by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The U.S.’s bilateral defence trade with India has in a little over a decade increased from near zero in 2008 to $20 billion.

Among some of the key foreign military sales notified to Congress include MH-60R Seahawk helicopters ($2.6 billion), Apache helicopters ($2.3 billion), P-8I maritime patrol aircraft ($3 billion), and M777 howitzers ($737 million).

India was the first non-treaty partner to be offered Missile Technology Control Regime Category-1 Unmanned Aerial System—the Sea Guardian UAS manufactured by General Atomics.

Also Read: Trump Hails Stronger India Ties With an Eye to Countering China

The U.S. 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 U.S. has also sold to India over $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 U.S. Munitions List. The top categories of direct commercial sales to India include aircraft, electronics and gas turbine engines.