Too early to gauge impact of removal from Entities list: DRDO

New Delhi: Months after the US removed DRDO along with other Indian firms from its sanctions list, the premier defence company says America`s decision will have the desired results only if it liberally issues licenses for the export of dual use items.

V K Saraswat, chief of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which bore the brunt of the sanctions for decades, said he views positively the US step but feels it is too early to guage its impact.

"On the face it, it (US decision) is a positive indicator but I have often said that merely removal of our firms from the Entities` list has done only one change that our name has gone from the denial list to the acceptance list," he told PTI in an interview.

He was responding when asked to comment on the US decision in January to remove nine Indian space and defence related companies such as DRDO and ISRO from its `Entities List` of sanctions which barred such firms from importing any dual-use items from any American company.

The US step, Saraswat said, "should help to improve obtaining hi-tech items by us from the US".

He, however, was guarded about the move translating into action, saying it is too early to say or gauge its impact because of the licencing process (in the US)."

The DRDO chief noted that the legal process in the US mandated that any technology or item that has dual use cannot be given without licences.

Observing that almost all the items required by the DRDO are of dual-use nature, he said the US should be liberal in delivering equipment and issuing licences when told that it would not be used for manufacturing of weapons.

"When I say I am not using a particular item for weapons of mass destruction or nuclear weapons, then they (the US) should accept that and deliver that (item)," Saraswat said.

He explained that many of the items can be used in weapon systems as well as extremely harmless substances like sporting goods.

"Whether we use a computing or communication device or a carbon-made tennis racket, they are all dual use items and they all require licences," he said.

Commenting on the impact of nearly three decades of US sanctions on DRDO, Saraswat said the organisation had converted that "era of denial into opportunity" for creating building blocks of world class technology and in the process reducing dependence on imports.

"While it was a troublesome and painful process, we converted it into an era of opportunity…Many of the technologies that were denied to us, we converted that sanctions era into opportunity," he said.

The DRDO chief said in 16 years between 1989 to 2005, the country had started making electronic devices.

"We make our own microprocessors and many materials which are used in missile development and our dependence of foreign countries also went down and our self-reliance index has gone up," he added.