US embassy cable - 05CHENNAI2446

ISRO FRUSTRATED BY SLOW PACE OF SPACE COOPERATION

Identifier: 05CHENNAI2446
Wikileaks: View 05CHENNAI2446 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Chennai
Created: 2005-10-14 09:14:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: ETTC TSPA PREL IN Export Control Initiatives
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS CHENNAI 002446 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ETTC, TSPA, PREL, IN, Export Control Initiatives 
SUBJECT: ISRO FRUSTRATED BY SLOW PACE OF SPACE COOPERATION 
 
REF: A) New Delhi 5758  B) State 181404 
 
1. (SBU) Summary.  The Indian Space Research Organization 
(ISRO) reiterated its frustration with the lack of a 
framework for cooperation on space exploration and research 
with the U.S. when high level ISRO officials met with us on 
October 6.  The officials called India's upcoming 
Chandrayaan-1 moon mission a "litmus test" for Indo-U.S. 
space collaboration, and expressed their perception that "a 
certain group in the U.S." opposes cooperation.  These 
sentiments echo what other USG officials have heard from 
ISRO representatives in the past several months, especially 
regarding lack of resolution about the Chandrayaan TAA.  End 
summary. 
 
2.  (SBU) On October 6 during his initial visit to 
Bangalore, new Chennai Principal Officer met at ISRO 
headquarters with Dr. Rajeev Lochan, Assistant Scientific 
Secretary, and Mr. Jacob Ninan, Director of International 
 
SIPDIS 
Cooperation.  The ISRO officials spent most of the hour-long 
meeting politely but very firmly renewing their complaints 
about the perceived slow pace of Indo-U.S. space 
collaboration and the lack of a proper framework or 
mechanism for cooperation (see ref A).  They said that from 
their perspective Prime Minister Singh's July visit to 
Washington has yet to show results at the working level, and 
they went so far as to question whether "a certain group 
(unnamed) in the U.S." actually opposes cooperation. 
 
 
3. (SBU) Lochan and Ninan specifically cited the Indian's 
upcoming Chandrayaan-1 moon mission as a prime opportunity 
for cooperation, and they mentioned the proposal to place on 
board an instrument developed by Johns Hopkins University. 
They said ISRO was still waiting for a U.S. response to ISRO- 
proposed changes to the Technical Assistance Agreement. 
Lochan called the Chandrayaan-1 opportunity a "litmus test" 
for cooperation, saying that if it cannot be resolved "there 
is no future for cooperation." 
 
4. (SBU) The ISRO officials also complained about what they 
view as the slow and circuitous route for communications on 
space issues.  They said the process of sending messages 
from the Department of State to Embassy New Delhi to be 
passed to the MEA and ultimately to ISRO sometimes took 
weeks.  They claimed that on the Indian side ISRO is 
empowered to deal directly with foreign entities and need 
only keep the MEA and Prime Minister's office informed.  The 
officials also contrasted their frustrating dealings with 
the U.S. with the "much more responsive," less bureaucratic 
European Space Agency.  They said earlier, similar problems 
with the Europeans were sorted out in a day-long meeting. 
 
5. (SBU) Comment:  Disconnect within ISRO?  Although ISRO's 
frustration is real, the officials may be overstating their 
own supposedly streamlined communications and their 
perceived lack of responsiveness from the U.S. side, as well 
as airing often-heard grievances about the TAA.  During the 
October 6 meeting Dr. Jacob mentioned the lack of a 
Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) for satellite 
launches.  Dr. Ninan quickly corrected his colleague, 
pointing out that a new draft had been received (likely the 
one transmitted in ref b).  The expected October 17 signing 
of the "Science and Technology Umbrella Agreement" and the 
Nov. 30-Dec. 1 High Technology Cooperation Group meeting 
present immediate opportunities to try to resolve pending 
disputes on the Chandrayaan TAAS and, more importantly, to 
promote other opportunities for space collaboration with 
India.  End comment. 
 
6. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy New Delhi. 
 
HOPPER 

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