We are fully behind the government for improving ties with all nations, but not at the cost of [offending] friendly nations.
Interview/ A.K. Antony, former defence minister
You have long been opposed to India signing the foundational defence agreements with the US. Now, the Modi government has decided to sign a diluted version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA). How do you see this development?
The US has said that, in the next three years, it will shift 60 per cent of its forces to the Asia-Pacific region to continue its fight against Al Qaeda and other groups. India will become part of its area of operations and I feel this is a very dangerous agreement to sign. Soon, in the name of keeping spares and equipment for aircraft and warships, the US will start storing weapons here. In this process, we would be antagonising a lot of friendly nations like Russia, which has been our friend for a long time. We are fully behind the government for improving ties with all nations, but not at the cost of [offending] friendly nations.
Moreover, according to LSA or its diluted form, we will get access only to a few ports and bases of the US while it will use India as its base of operations. Signing this agreement is against national interest and will be disastrous.
Why did you oppose the agreements when you were defence minister?
Let me be very clear. I was not against having good relations with the US. But, at the same time, we didn't want to be seen as part of any military bloc. I was frequently put under pressure by the [George] Bush and [Barack] Obama administrations, but we made it clear that we will not sign the agreements. I appeal to the government to review its decision.
What is your view on other agreements such as CISMOA?
I think if we go ahead on CISMOA, too, we would become part of the US military establishment. Under that agreement, we would be giving away our military secrets to the US as it would be able to monitor the movement of our Air Force and Navy.