U.S. Eases Export Controls on Four ISRO Divisions

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PARIS — The U.S. government on Jan. 25 announced it has removed divisions of India’s space agency from a list of organizations barred from certain space technology exports as part of a broader thawing in U.S.-Indian trade relations.`

The announcement, by the U.S. Commerce Department, said the easing of export controls includes taking India off the list of nations to which exports are restricted in the name of curbing the proliferation of weapons technology.

A U.S.-India bilateral summit in November had concluded with a promise from the U.S. delegation, led by President Barack Obama, that many of the restrictions on technology exports to India, particularly those dealing with arms, would be eased.

The Commerce Department announcement in the U.S. Federal Register puts those promises into legal language and gives them the status of a formal policy. The announcement said further rule changes are expected.

Effective immediately, four divisions of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) no longer will be on a so-called Entities List that severely restricts their ability to receive U.S. technology, directly or indirectly.

The four divisions are the Liquid Propulsion Systems Center, the Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant, the Sriharikota Space Center and the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center. Five organizations affiliated with India’s Ministry of Defense also are being removed from the restricted list.

“The reforms reflect India’s non-proliferation record and commitment to abide by multilateral control standards,” the Commerce Department rulemaking says, adding that India will now be considered by the United States as a member of the multilateral Missile Technology Control Regime.

India has a well-developed domestic satellite and launch vehicle industry ,and both have been looking for export opportunities. Lifting the technology export restrictions ultimately should make it easier for U.S. satellite components to be integrated onto commercial Indian telecommunications satellites, or for full U.S. satellites to be sent to India for commercial launches aboard Indian rockets.