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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs > Releases > Public Statements on South and Central Asian Policy > 2004

Unleashing the Potential of U.S.-India Civil Space Cooperation

Kenneth I. Juster, Under Secretary of Commerce
India-United States Conference on Space Science, Applications and Commerce
Bangalore, India
June 22, 2004

As Prepared for Delivery

Chairman Nair, distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen. Thank you for your warm welcome. As I mentioned yesterday, I am delighted to be participating in this historic conference that marks over 40 years of space collaboration between the United States and India. I am also pleased to be back in Bangalore, the high-technology capital of India and the cradle of India's space program.

This morning, I would like to share with you my thoughts on U.S.-Indian space cooperation, and what is possible if we capitalize on our complementary talents, technological prowess, and mutually reinforcing national interests. In the last three years, the United States and India have reinforced the foundation for sustained joint efforts in civilian space activities. Our challenge at this Conference is to lay out concrete ways to move forward in space cooperation based on our common goals of a more peaceful and prosperous world.

U.S.-Indian Space Cooperation

Space captivates the collective imagination of humankind. It is limitless in its expanse and boundless in its potential to benefit the lives of ordinary people. Since the dawn of time, we have gazed into the vastness of the universe, contemplating the meaning of our own existence and the nature of our purpose here on Earth. In the 20th century, our scientists and engineers transformed dreams of space exploration into reality. In so doing, they made it possible to reap the terrestrial benefits of space technology to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

In those early days of space exploration, the United States and India forged a new, cooperative relationship firmly grounded in our reach for the stars. More than 40 years ago, our scientists and engineers collaboratively launched a Nike-Apache sounding rocket from the Thumba range, establishing our first cooperative remote sensing study and initiating the Indian space program. Even during those early days of our cooperation, the resulting study of the ionospheric phenomenon over the Earth's magnetic equator demonstrated the power of combining our complementary talents and technological prowess, and the potential of our high-technology relationship.

In the decades that followed, the United States and India jointly explored space-based technologies that could be harnessed to promote education, health, communications, meteorology, and disaster management for the one billion citizens of India. In 1976, the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment combined U.S. satellite assets and Indian ground receivers in a path-breaking project to deliver television broadcasts to over 2,000 villages in six Indian states - demonstrating the efficacy of developmental communications technologies and the power of U.S.-Indian technical cooperation. Indeed, I understand that, today, 65 percent of India's geographical area and 95 percent of its people have television coverage thanks to satellite and repeater technology.

Our countries moved swiftly to capitalize on their joint developmental exercise of 1976 and, between 1982 and 1990, launched a series of spacecraft - INSAT 1A, 1B, and 1D - to fulfill the promise for India of space-based applications in broadcasting, meteorology, and remote sensing. The first INSAT spacecraft, manufactured by Ford Aerospace and launched on U.S. launch systems, formed the basis of the Indian National Satellite System (INSAT), a system that today provides an ever-expanding universe of civil applications - from telecommunications and broadcasting to environmental monitoring, weather forecasting, and disaster management; from agricultural research, precision farming, and monitoring to telemedicine and telehealth; and from seamless global navigation for commercial transportation to ocean research.

Of course, the benefits of U.S.-Indian space cooperation flow both ways. Almost seven years ago, our governments established and, in 2002 renewed, a Memorandum of Understanding to capitalize on the early success of the INSAT satellite series by connecting our remote sensing capabilities for our mutual benefit. This Memorandum of Understanding for Scientific Cooperation in the Areas of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences promotes routine satellite data exchange between the United States and India. It involves NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, NOAA's geostationary operational environmental satellites, and India's INSAT and Kalpana satellite constellations. Our cooperation furthers humanitarian applications in weather forecasting and modeling, disaster management, tropical rainfall measurement, ocean and land surface precipitation parameters, and global bio-geosphere activities.

Each initiative under the agreement presents the opportunity to combine our resources for the advancement of science and for the promotion of practical solutions to increasingly difficult everyday problems. Whether the results contribute to our theoretical modeling of global weather or warn of an impending monsoon or cyclone, the benefits of our collaboration are noteworthy and significant.
One theme underscores all of these joint efforts - that is, together we can achieve much more than we can individually. Our people - indeed people throughout the world - have witnessed the dramatic acceleration of progress made possible by harnessing the potential of space. Clearly, we have a responsibility to use our collective talents for the greater good and to fully realize the potential with which we have been so blessed.

Today's Perils and Challenges

And yet, this time of accelerated technical and social progress is also a period of great peril. Disaffected groups in the world seek to halt mankind's advance to ever greater peace, prosperity, and freedom. Many of these groups are resorting to terror, motivated by the fantasy of a simpler state, predating mankind's technological accomplishments. These terrorists seek the destruction of our civilization by misusing the technology that we have so painstakingly developed. In the hands of such adversaries, our technology provides a powerful weapon with the potential to erase the hopes of millions for a better future. Indeed, weapons of mass destruction and their associated delivery systems cast long shadows in today's world. Our terrorist adversaries and those that sympathize with them lurk in those shadows, seeking the opportunity to seize the technological means to develop these weapons and their delivery systems. So, I believe, we must recognize that our progress forward hinges, in substantial part, on our ability to develop, improve, and use space technology for peaceful purposes.

Our longstanding common objectives in this regard have occasionally been tested. As we all know, in 1998, the United States imposed sanctions on India and on Pakistan, as required under U.S. law, in response to the conducting of nuclear tests. U.S sanctions on India prohibited trade with a long list of Indian entities and curtailed a broad array of cooperative space initiatives. While the United States continues to be concerned about the dangers associated with nuclear weapons in South Asia, we have also recognized the need to transform our relationship with India by working to expand common positions, rather than focus only on differences.

President Bush appreciates an underlying and transcendent truth about our relationship: that the world's two largest democracies have always had more that ties us together than pulls us apart. Following careful review, therefore, the Bush Administration lifted sanctions in September 2001, resulting in a greatly shortened list of entities for which certain exports require a license. This action demonstrated significant progress, but there is still more that we can accomplish. Systematically engaging in open and honest dialogue, our countries have developed concrete initiatives to curtail proliferation while encouraging the development of high-technology trade. This constructive dialogue has placed our political relationship on stronger footing than at any time heretofore. We now need to ensure that this same strong relationship continues to spread throughout our societies, to the business-to-business and people-to-people levels.

The High Technology Cooperation Group

That is one of the reasons why, in November 2002, we established the U.S.-India High Technology Cooperation Group - also known as the HTCG. This Group provides a standing framework for discussing high-technology issues of mutual concern. In order to guide the work of the HTCG, our two countries negotiated a "Statement of Principles for U.S.-India High Technology Commerce" in February of 2003. That Statement sets forth 14 principles, which constitute the basis for strengthening bilateral high-technology commerce and which can be grouped into four main categories that address different aspects of our work. Those categories are as follows:

  • First, reviewing U.S. export licensing processes and policies, so as to grant India expanded access to U.S. dual-use goods and technologies, consistent with our laws and international commitments;
  • Second, creating the appropriate economic environment for successful high-technology trade by lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers to such trade in India;
  • Third, cooperatively addressing proliferation concerns and strengthening national export control systems;
  • And fourth, working in partnership with the private sector in each country, which is in the best position to identify obstacles to high-technology commerce and propose specific policy changes.

Let us examine some recent trade statistics with regard to dual-use items that clearly demonstrate the steps that the U.S. Government has taken as part of its effort to grant India, including IRSO, expanded access to our high technology.

In our fiscal year 2002, which was from October 2001 through September 2002, the U.S. Government approved 423 license applications for dual-use exports to India, valued at almost $27 million. These licenses approvals represented approximately 84 percent of all licensing decisions for India that year. Notably, in that same year - which was the year directly after the U.S. sanctions were lifted - we also returned without action almost 280 license applications, corresponding to over $535 million worth of goods, and we did so primarily because these items did not need a license to be exported. This high percentage of applications for items that did not need a license told us that there were continuing misperceptions about U.S. sanctions that, in fact, no longer existed. Indeed, since the lifting of the U.S. sanctions in September 2001, only a very small percentage of our total trade with India is even subject to controls. The vast majority of dual-use items simply do not require a license for shipment to India.

In fiscal year 2003 - when we established the High Technology Cooperation Group - the positive trends continued, as we received almost 200 more license applications than the previous year, yet denied fewer of them. This meant that, in fiscal year 2003, we approved 90 percent of all dual-use licensing applications for India, with the value of such approvals more than doubling to $57 million. Moreover, the value of license applications that were returned without action dropped dramatically from over $535 million to approximately $35 million, meaning that exporters were getting the word that sanctions had been lifted.

These noteworthy trends have continued through the first half of fiscal year 2004. The facts and figures tell a compelling story.
First, the number of licensing decisions and license approvals continues to rise significantly - each by approximately 40 percent over the same period last year. The license approval rate, therefore, continues to run at close to 90 percent.

Second, the value of these licensed dual-use exports continues to rise even faster, meaning that more valuable exports are being shipped. For the first half of fiscal year 2004, we have approved license applications involving almost $51 million of dual-use items, compared to a total of $57 million in licensed trade for all of last year. This is an increase of some 80 percent on an annualized basis.

Third, the value of license applications that were returned without action continues to fall significantly - to only $5 million for the first half of fiscal year 2004.

What all this means is that - with the end of sanctions and with the establishment of the High Technology Cooperation Group - U.S. licensing practice has led to a dramatic and continuing increase in the export of sophisticated U.S. high-technology to India. This has been mirrored by a greater understanding of U.S. export control policy among those involved in high-technology trade.

What is equally important for all of us here today is that the same trends are occurring with regard to U.S. licensing decisions for sophisticated exports to ISRO and its subordinate entities. In the last year and a half, the number of licensing decisions for ISRO and its subordinates has increased by 75 percent, with the license approval rate now running at approximately 93 percent. In other words, licenses for exports to ISRO have been approved at an even higher rate than for dual-use exports in general. In addition, the total value of these license approvals for ISRO and its subordinates has risen by some 55 percent since fiscal year 2002 to an annualized value of over $14 million for fiscal year 2004. These, again, are very positive and very noteworthy trends. They are a direct result of U.S. licensing practices that reflect our growing strategic partnership with India.

The story so far is extremely good. But there is still the potential for even greater levels of bilateral high-technology trade. For example, I have seen from my visits to ISRO that India has a robust and ambitious program to improve the health, education, and well-being of its people - including its farmers and rural workers - through technology-based initiatives such as telemedicine, tele-education, and precision farming. Under existing U.S. export control policy, there is a significant range of commodities and software that U.S. companies can export to India for these initiatives, including amplifiers, transistors, antenna components, power monitors, signal generators, spectrum analyzers, computers, and related technology. We can also enhance our cooperation in earth and space sciences, satellite communications, global positioning, and humanitarian and disaster relief. Indeed, our government recently approved a license authorizing Boeing Satellite Systems to engage in discussions and share data with ISRO on the division of responsibilities for possible joint cooperation in the development and marketing of communication satellites.

The Next Steps in Strategic Partnership

So, we have made great strides forward in the past three years, and we have great opportunities ahead of us. Indeed, earlier this year, our leaders agreed to a strategic framework to further expand cooperation in several key areas, including high-technology trade, civilian space programs, and civilian nuclear activities. They also agreed to enhance our dialogue on missile defense. The proposed cooperation - known as the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership - is designed to progress through a series of reciprocal steps that build on each other. These steps will strengthen our cooperation in such areas as the peaceful uses of space technology, while ensuring that we strengthen our laws and regulations to combat weapons of mass destruction and their associated delivery systems. It is my fervent hope that, once the new government in India has the opportunity to fully review this joint initiative, it will embrace these steps and move forward with us expeditiously.

The United States, of course, recognizes that India is not a party to certain multilateral non-proliferation regimes. But we respectfully submit that India - like us - has a stake in the success of these regimes precisely because of the foundation they provide for our joint interest in halting proliferation. From our standpoint, we need to advance our cooperation in high-technology trade, civilian space activities, and other areas in ways that do not undermine the general international framework on non-proliferation.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by returning to the reason that led each of us to attend this Conference - our mutual interest in advancing the peaceful uses of space technology. Together, the United States and India have the potential to transform the future into a safer, more prosperous tomorrow. Together, our countries can harness civil space cooperation for the lasting benefit of all humankind. The seeds of that cooperative effort have already been planted. Our mission at this Conference is to nurture their growth.

Thank you again for your warm welcome and for the opportunity to address you this morning.


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