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US likely to lift ban on ISRO, DRDO soon

(image) Washington: The US, which imposed curbs on trade with defence entities like ISRO and DRDO following India`s nuclear tests in 1998, has set in motion regulatory changes to lift the ban soon, thus fulfilling a commitment made by President Barack Obama.

A formal notification to lift the ban by the US Department of Commerce for this purpose is in advanced stage, top US officials said.

"These regulatory changes will begin the transformation of the bilateral export control policies to realise the full potential of the strategic partnership between our two countries," Eric Hirschhorn, Under Secretary for Industry and Security, US Department of Commerce, told PTI.

But he did not give any time line for the removal of restrictions, which is eagerly awaited in India.

However, official sources said a formal notification in this regard could well be issued before the scheduled India visit of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke from February 6-11.

US imposed curbs on trade with these defence entities in the wake nuclear tests carried out by India in 1998.

"The Department of Commerce is working quickly to publish a regulation that will remove Indian space and defence-related entities from the Entity List and enact other India-specific export control changes," a senior US official said.

They clarified these notifications would be India specific.

"We have a separate track on these issues in partnership with India," another Administration official said.

"As you`ll recall, in New Delhi, the President together with the Prime Minister announced a resolution of unilateral export control issues and the President announced his support for India in multilateral fora. That has not changed and we continue to move forward on those steps," the official said.

Obama, during his India visit, had assured India that he would remove these companies from the entities list.

"Commensurate with India`s nonproliferation record and commitment to abide by multilateral export control standards, the US will remove all civil space and defence-related entities from the Department of Commerce "Entity List."

"Inclusion on this list generally triggers an export license requirement when exported," said a fact sheet issued by the White House during the Obama visit.

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