Following months of deliberation, US Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has granted approval for the sale of MQ-9 drones to India. However, his approval comes with a set of conditions aimed at addressing concerns about human rights and recent allegations of transnational repression.
“This decision was not taken lightly,” Senator Cardin stated. “While I recognize the importance of this sale for US national security and strategic interests, I raised serious concerns about the timing in light of the disturbing plot involving Indian officials attempting to assassinate an American citizen on US soil.”
The Senator secured assurances from the Biden administration that the Indian government would conduct a thorough investigation into the assassination plot and fully cooperate with the US Department of Justice investigation. He emphasized his intention to hold the administration accountable for upholding these commitments.
Despite the concerns, Senator Cardin acknowledged the strategic significance of the US-India partnership, particularly in maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific region. He expressed continued support for deepening the bilateral relationship, but stressed the importance of mutual trust and respect based on shared values.
“Championing human rights and democratic values globally remains a top priority,” he declared. “Open and honest discussions are crucial, even with our closest allies, to ensure progress on these critical issues.” Senator Cardin concluded by reiterating his commitment to raising human rights concerns with both the US administration and Indian counterparts, believing that shared values are essential for the long-term strength of the partnership.