On July 23, Congress released the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Fiscal Year 2019 Conference Report, which could permit the United States to exempt states from sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). If entered into law, this would allow the United States not to sanction India for (and others in the process of) purchasing the S-400 Triumf missile system from Russia. Section 1294 of the NDAA Conference Report would permit the President “to waive the application of sanctions” under CAATSA, provided the otherwise targets of sanctions meet specific criteria.
This follows Secretary of Defense Mattis’ testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 26, in which he recognized the need for what Senator Reed called “flexibility.” Secretary Mattis stated, “There are nations in the world who are trying to turn away from formerly Russian-sourced weapons and systems like this. We only need to look at India, Vietnam, and some others to recognize that eventually we are going to paralyze ourselves. And so what we ask for is the Senate and the House pass a national security waiver in the hands of the Secretary of State.”