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India To Seek Israeli Help on Missile Projects
A six-member Indian team headed by the chief of the government’s defense research agency will make an unpublicized visit to Israel next week to seek technical help with several indigenous missile development programs.
Officials in the Indian Defence Ministry told DefenseNews.com Sept. 23 that the government does not wish to make Indo-Israeli defense relations public and refused to divulge the exact schedule and agenda of the visit.
A senior missile scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said the visit by DRDO head Vasudev Aatre to Israel is aimed at establishing deeper collaboration by seeking help in development of the 3,000-kilometer range Agni-3 ballistic missile. DRDO also will seek Israel’s help in fine-tuning the new inertial navigation system for the indigenous, short-range, sea-skimming Dhanush missile, which DRDO has developed for the Indian Navy.
Other indigenous missile projects DRDO officials will discuss with Israel include the short-range Astra, and a possible anti-missile system based on the Israeli Arrow-2 that would be tailored to Indian needs.
DRDO scientists noted that Aatre had a two-hour private meeting with Amos Mayer, Israeli Ministry of Defense export chief, Sept. 9 during a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to New Delhi.
Meanwhile, an Indian Army artillery team is in Israel to witness trials of the Israeli Long Range Artillery missile.
Indian Tests of Israeli Missile System May Lead to Orders
Recent Indian Navy tests of an Israeli-made anti-missile system are expected to result in follow-on orders for the supersonic, vertical-launch ship defense missile.
In interviews here, Indian and Israeli officials said an enhanced version of the Israeli Barak naval air defense system successfully intercepted two Russian-made missile targets in early September tests by the Indian Navy off the coast of Goa, in southwestern India.
“It was a splendid two-for-two performance. They launched two [Baraks] against two incoming missiles, and they destroyed them head-on,” a recently retired Indian general still associated with military modernization efforts, told DefenseNews.com on Sept. 9.
An Israeli defense official here confirmed the tests, as did representatives of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Ltd., and Rafael Armament Development Authority, partners in development and production of the Barak system. Leading executives of the two firms were accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon here Sept. 9-11 on the first state visit to India of an Israeli premier since the two nations established diplomatic ties in 1992.
“It was a significant test, since the missile was evaluated under particularly rigorous conditions,” an Israeli industry official said.
Defense officials from both countries said New Delhi has agreed to purchase at least eight new systems. The package follows an initial $270 million package concluded in 2001.
The Israeli Barak system is designed to intercept sea-skimming missiles, cruise missiles, or air-launched missiles in daylight, at night and under any weather conditions. It has an intercept range from a minimum of 500 meters to beyond 10 kilometers.
Thirty-five years ago, in September 1968, when the Research and Analysis Wing was founded with Rameshwar Nath Kao at its helm, then prime minister Indira Gandhi asked him to cultivate Israel's Mossad. She believed relations between the two intelligence agencies was necessary to monitor developments that could threaten India and Israel.
The efficient spymaster he was, Kao established a clandestine relationship with Mossad. In the 1950s, New Delhi had permitted Tel Aviv to establish a consulate in Mumbai. But full-fledged diplomatic relations with Israel were discouraged because India supported the Palestinian cause; having an Israeli embassy in New Delhi, various governments believed, would rupture its relations with the Arab world.
This was where the RAW-Mossad liaison came in. Among the threats the two external intelligence agencies identified were the military relationship between Pakistan and China, especially after then Pakistan foreign minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto visited Pyongyang in 1971 to establish a military relationship with North Korea.
Again, Israel was worried by reports that Pakistani army officers were training Libyans and Iranians to handle Chinese and North Korean military equipment.
RAW-Mossad relations were a secret till Morarji Desai became prime minister in 1977. RAW officials had alerted him about the Zia-ul Haq regime's plans to acquire nuclear capability. While French assistance to Pakistan for a plutonium reprocessing plant was well known, the uranium enrichment plant at Kahuta was a secret. After the French stopped helping Islamabad under pressure from the Carter administration, Pakistan was determined to keep the Kahuta plant a secret. Islamabad did not want Washington to prevent its commissioning.
RAW agents were shocked when Desai called Zia and told the Pakistani military dictator: 'General, I know what you are up to in Kahuta. RAW has got me all the details.' The prime minister's indiscretion threatened to expose RAW sources.
The unfortunate revelation came about the same time that General Moshe Dayan, hero of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, was secretly visiting Kathmandu for a meeting with Indian representatives. Islamabad believed Dayan's visit was connected with a joint operation by Indian and Israeli intelligence agencies to end Pakistan's nuclear programme.
Apprehensive about an Indo-Israeli air strike on Kahuta, surface-to-air missiles were mounted around the uranium enrichment plant. These fears grew after the Israeli bombardment of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.
Zia decided Islamabad needed to reassure Israel that it had nothing to fear from Pakistan's nuclear plans. Intermediaries -- Americans close to Israel -- established the initial contacts between Islamabad and Tel Aviv. Israel was confidant the US would not allow Pakistan's nuclear capability to threaten Israel. That is why Israeli experts do not mention the threat from Pakistan when they refer to the need for pre-emptive strikes against Iraq, Iran and Libya's nuclear schemes.
By the early 1980s, the US had discovered Pakistan's Kahuta project. By then northwest Pakistan was the staging ground for mujahideen attacks against Soviet troops in Afghanistan and Zia no longer feared US objections to his nuclear agenda. But Pakistani concerns over Israel persisted, hence Zia decided to establish a clandestine relationship between Inter-Services Intelligence and Mossad via officers of the two services posted at their embassies in Washington, DC.
The ISI knew Mossad would be interested in information about the Libyan, Syrian, Jordanian and Saudi Arabian military. Pakistani army officers were often posted on deputation in the Arab world -- in these very countries -- and had access to valuable information, which the ISI offered Mossad.
When young Israeli tourists began visiting the Kashmir valley in the early nineties Pakistan suspected they were Israeli army officers in disguise to help Indian security forces with counter-terrorism operations. The ISI propaganda inspired a series of terrorist attacks on the unsuspecting Israeli tourists. One was slain, another kidnapped.
The Kashmiri Muslim Diaspora in the US feared the attacks would alienate the influential Jewish community who, they felt, could lobby the US government and turn it against Kashmiri organisations clamouring for independence. Soon after, presumably caving into pressure, the terrorists released the kidnapped Israeli. During negotiations for his release, Israeli government officials, including senior intelligence operatives, arrived in Delhi.
The ensuing interaction with Indian officials led to India establishing embassy-level relations with Israel in 1992. The decision was taken by a Congress prime minister -- P V Narasimha Rao -- whose government also began pressing the American Jewish lobby for support in getting the US to declare Pakistan a sponsor of terrorism. The lobbying bore some results.
The US State Department put Pakistan on a 'watch-list' for six months in 1993. The Clinton administration 'persuaded' then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif to dismiss Lieutenant General Javed Nasir, then director general of the ISI. The Americans were livid that the ISI refused to play ball with the CIA who wanted to buy unused Stinger missiles from the Afghan mujahideen, then in power in Kabul.
After she returned to power towards the end of 1993, Benazir Bhutto intensified the ISI's liaison with Mossad. She too began to cultivate the American Jewish lobby. Benazir is said to have a secret meeting in New York with a senior Israeli emissary, who flew to the US during her visit to Washington, DC in 1995 for talks with Clinton.
From his days as Bhutto's director general of military operations, Pervez Musharraf has been a keen advocate of Pakistan establishing diplomatic relations with the state of Israel.
The new defence relationship between India and Israel -- where the Jewish State has become the second-biggest seller of weapons to India, after Russia -- bother Musharraf no end. Like another military dictator before him, the Pakistan president is also wary that the fear of terrorists gaining control over Islamabad's nuclear arsenal could lead to an Israel-led pre-emptive strike against his country.
Musharraf is the first Pakistani leader to speak publicly about diplomatic relations with Israel. His pragmatic corps commanders share his view that India's defence relationship with Israel need to be countered and are unlikely to oppose such a move. But the generals are wary of the backlash from the streets. Recognising Israel and establishing an Israeli embassy in Islamabad would be unacceptable to the increasingly powerful mullahs who see the United States, Israel and India as enemies of Pakistan and Islam.
Indo-Isreali Troops Practice Targeting Pakistani Nuclear Reactors and more
According to ISREAL-Net-Weekly’s military sources in New Delhi, a group of Israel electronic warfare experts is helping the Indian army set up and operate six early warning stations along the 750-km Line of Control dividing disputed Kashmir, for picking up movements of military forces, armed men and explosives on the Pakistani side, and jamming the electronic surveillance instruments Pakistan trains on Indian territory. These stations are backed up by smaller electronic tracking and command centers, some mobile, and 10 bases operating Israel-made unmanned aerial vehicles armed with anti-tank weapons systems capable of demolishing fortifications, as well as reconnaissance.
According to our sources in New Delhi, India is the only country to which Israel has sold drones of its manufacture that are capable of firing missiles, while also training local operators in their use. The pilot-less aircraft can stay aloft on reconnaissance and interception missions for up to 36 hours and penetrate as far as 800 km (500 miles) into Pakistan. The plane Pakistan air force jets shot down Saturday was just inside the frontier over the Punjab town of Lahore.
The burgeoning military exchanges between India and Israel, going back 12 years, have placed more than one group of Israeli personnel inside troubled Kashmir.
ISREAL-Net-Weekly’s military sources in the subcontinent report another group instructing Indian officers in the operation of the Arrow intercept missile’s Green Pine radar, the most effective system in India’s arsenal for detecting the launch of a Pakistani nuclear-tipped missile. Indian defense minister George Fernandes has urgently applied through the Indian-Israeli liaison officer General Uzi Dayan for a third Green Pine system, even on a year’s loan, for deployment south of New Delhi, across from Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Sindh provinces.
Israel is in a dilemma. While eager to become India’s top supplier of advanced weapons systems and glad of the developing bilateral relationship, Israel will be hard put to find a spare Green Pine system in its emergency anti-missile arsenal – even for tens of millions of dollars – given the perilous Middle East situation, current and potential. This radar system was developed as a vital component of Israel’s anti-missile defenses.
Israel will reply to the Indian request after checking first with Washington, given that the Arrow and its systems are a co-production.
Across the Kashmir border, Chinese electronic warfare experts are instructing Pakistani officers. Indian military experts, questioned by ISREAL-Net-Weekly, reveal that some of the Chinese specialists received their electronic warfare training from Israeli instructors in China. The sources rate Chinese electronic equipment as far inferior to India’s.
Outside Kashmir, at air bases in western and northern India, Israeli air force flight and bombing instructors are teaching Indian pilots, especially reservists called up for duty, how to use smart bombs and advanced weapons systems precisely and effectively. India recently bought a large stock of smart air-to-ground missiles from Israel as well as from other countries, for precision- and carpet-bombing of terror bases and Pakistani military bases in a full-scale war.
The heightened Israeli military presence in India is stoking one of Pakistan’s deepest forebodings. Recalling how Israel bombed Iraq’s first nuclear reactor to extinction exactly 21 years ago this week, Pakistani leaders fear the Israeli air force will divulge to a select group of Indian flight crews the most advanced methods for destroying atomic reactors and weapons depots.
Iran appears to share this concern. ISREAL-Net-Weekly’s military sources say that, in mid-May, Iranian military intelligence asked Pakistan to verify information received that an Israeli bomber squadron had arrived in south India, possibly assigned with knocking out Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr, now in the last stages of construction by the Russians. Iran believes Israel has already carried out one attempt, which failed.
Israel naval officers are also to be found in naval bases on India’s Arabian Sea coast. Under top-secret naval cooperation accords, Israel has supplied India with ship-to-ship and cruise missiles, along with instructors, that can hit strategic targets deep inside Pakistani territory. Another secret military cooperation agreement provides for a joint Indian-Israeli naval presence in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean approaches to the Persian Gulf.
Rebuffing the anti-Israeli brigade, the Vajpayee government has upgraded the defence collaboration plan with Israel. Tel Aviv has decided to take on India as partner for its submarine manufacturing programme. Disclosing a little of what transpired during the visit of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, top government sources asserted their preference for Israel as the new and increasingly important source of defence supplies.
The Israeli offer to upgrade India’s status from an important client of its defence equipment to a partner in its defence-production programme marks an important leap forward in the relations between the two countries. It indicates the trust Tel Aviv has reposed in India, a realisation which stems not just from their shared concerns about jehadi terrorism, but also from the economic and technological development undertaken by the two countries defying all odds.
“There is some likelihood of our being a partner in producing conventional submarines. They are in the process of producing a new submarine and they would like us to be junior partner,” these sources pointed out, adding, “The idea hasn’t crystallised as yet.”
Thankful for the strong support Tel Aviv had given New Delhi during Pakistan’s Kargil misadventure and the post-December 13 build-up, the government has chosen to ignore the Left and some Muslim lobbies and has gone right ahead with the deal.
Sources disclosed that Israel had stripped two divisions of its army to rush supplies that India requested for during the Kargil conflict. The gesture was repeated when a confrontation with Pakistan had looked imminent in the wake of the terror attack on Parliament. “They offered to give us whatever we wanted,” these sources said..
The collaboration looks even more impressive considering that the two countries did not have diplomatic ties till as recently as 1993. Though Russia remains the top source of India’s defence supplies, Israel is increasingly providing high-quality weapons such as the Phalcon early warning surveillance and control system, shipborne electronic warfare systems, the Barak missile systems and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The recent Israeli visit also saw the two countries almost finalising the proposal for the purchase of three Phalcon systems, to be mounted on as many IL-76s. “Only the cost for the deal remains to be finalised,” these sources said.
The two sides are also set to partner each other in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), both the ‘Searcher’ and ‘Heron’ varieties. “We’re at the moment working on a joint venture for the production of these surveillance platforms,” these sources said.
India’s attempt to procure the Arrow missile defence systems, however, remains stuck because of the American veto. “They believe that without American clearance, it may be difficult for them to agree to the Indian request,” the sources added.
When Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon visits India on September 911, he is likely to explore the possible sale of Israeli Arrow antiballistic missiles to New Delhi. The United States, which has provided funds and technology for the Arrow since 1986, has a veto right over sales to third parties. U.S. approval of a sale to India would offer both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages Geopolitics. After its August 6-7 meeting in Washington, the U.S.- India Defense Policy Group issued a joint statement describing "our new strategic partnership." India could be an important security partner for both the United States and Israel. Like them, India is threatened by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, missiles that deliver them, and radical Islamist terrorists. India has a large military establishment that could contribute to future coalitions and, as the world's largest democracy, it is a logical partner for other democracies. Moreover, a strong India could help to balance China's growing power. Being close to the Persian Gulf, India's naval facilities could also offer U.S. Central Command alternatives to risky Gulf ports. Similarly, as Israel develops its "blue water navy" to enhance deterrence against adversaries such as Iran, India's naval facilities could serve as refueling and support installations.
In recent years India has warmed to Iran, with vague discussions of high-level technology cooperation. Discouraging unwise Indian technology transfers is an additional reason to expand Israeli and U.S. influence.
Defensive orientation. The Arrow could help shift India's security orientation toward defenses. India and Pakistan currently deploy nuclear missile forces against each other. These forces are vulnerable to first strikes; that is, the side that strikes first would gain a substantial advantage. In a crisis, this incentive to launch a nuclear first strike could lead to disaster. Missile defenses are one way to create uncertainties about the effectiveness of such strikes. U.S. approval of Israel's recent sale of the Phalcon air defense system to India could be the first step toward shifting New Delhi's security orientation.
For its part, India endorsed the U.S. missile defense program -- to which Russia and other major nations had objected -- in May 2001, the day after President George W. Bush announced his vision of missile defense. The U.S. and Indian governments have agreed to hold a missile defense workshop in New Delhi by February 2004. Moreover, Arrow is not India's only missile defense option. Russia is discussing a sale of the comparable S300V system, and Washington could offer Patriot missiles.
Disadvantages Geopolitics. Some analysts fear that, if India gains an asymmetrical advantage in defenses, it might behave more recklessly toward Pakistan. The South Asian nuclear arms race could in turn accelerate if Pakistan reacted by increasing its missile inventory or acquiring countermeasures against missile defenses. Moreover, if Pakistan reacted badly to U.S. approval of an Arrow sale, U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on Afghanistan and counterterrorism could suffer.
Proliferation. Arrow has been tested not only as an interceptor, but also as a target -- it can simulate an offensive missile with a range of several hundred kilometers. This is possible because the Arrow uses a large, sophisticated rocket motor. Indeed, the Arrow rocket exceeds the threshold for which the 33-nation, export-control Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) has prescribed a "strong presumption to deny" exports. (Some Russian interceptors, not yet exported, also exceed this threshold. The U.S. Patriot does not.)
Washington helped establish the MTCR in the 1980s, and Israel adheres to the regime's guidelines. The MTCR permits its members to make "rare" over-threshold exports, but India and Pakistan's nuclear and missile programs make them dubious candidates for such allowances. U.S. approval of Arrow sales could invite over- threshold exports by other MTCR members and jeopardize the regime's successes in retarding the proliferation of advanced missile technologies. U.S. willingness to cross the MTCR firebreak could also hurt its efforts to define illicit missile exports in its new Proliferation Security Initiative.
India has a record of diversions of sensitive technology. India diverted the engine of a Soviet air defense missile, the SA-2, to make the offensive Prithvi ballistic missile. It also diverted the design of a U.S. space-launch rocket, the Scout, to make the Agni medium-range ballistic missile. For years India dissembled about its rocket and nuclear programs, claiming "peaceful" purposes until the last minute. Arrow interceptors could be a source of more sophisticated missile technology not only for India but also for its customers. India seeks to export missiles; it has not agreed to abide by MTCR restrictions. Its export control record is spotty; although New Delhi has halted some dangerous shipments, the CIA has reported Indian assistance to Libya's missile program, and Washington recently imposed sanctions on Indian firms for missile and chemical weapon-related exports to Iraq and, possibly, Iran.
Countermeasures. India's missile relationship with Russia raises the additional possibility that Arrow technology could make its way to experts there who would examine it to find ways to develop countermeasures against it. Russia could then export those countermeasures to Israel's adversaries in the Middle East, such as Iran. The MTCR, to which Russia belongs, does not control the export of most countermeasures, so the regime would be no obstacle. Moreover, Arrow employs U.S. command guidance, seeker, and computer hardware and software technology to direct it to its target. Hence, lessons learned from examining the Arrow might lead to countermeasures that could stress U.S. missile defenses that employ similar technology.
Options The U.S. decision regarding Arrow sales to India is a difficult one. Washington could approve a sale and use diplomacy and export conditions to try to limit adverse consequences such as Pakistani anger, Indian diversion of missile technology, development of countermeasures, and a weakening of the MTCR. Although approval would offer short-term diplomatic gains for the United States, Israel, and India, it would also leave a long follow-up agenda with an uncertain outcome.
Alternatively, Washington could deny approval for the sale, press Russia for similar restraint with respect to exports of systems exceeding the MTCR threshold, and pursue less sensitive U.S. and Israeli defense cooperation with India. In the short term, this option could cause bilateral difficulties with India, but it would offer long-term global security advantages.
As a third option, Israel could offer India "missile defense services" rather than Arrow interceptor hardware. That is, Israel could keep the interceptors under its control but deploy them to India and operate them in coordination with the Indian military. Such an approach would be similar to recent U.S. Patriot deployments to nations threatened by Iraqi missiles. There would be little or no technology transfer to India, thus reducing MTCR concerns and the potential for countermeasures development. Moreover, the presence of Israeli Arrow operators in India would symbolize -- and perhaps strengthen -- an active strategic partnership. Yet, this approach would not satisfy India's desire to control its own defenses and gain access to technology. New Delhi would not consider this option at all unless there were no other alternative. Therefore, it would be critical to convince Russia to restrict any offer of its S300V system under a similar "services" approach.
U.S. and Israeli decisions on the Arrow issue will have widespread implications for missile nonproliferation and missile defense. Missile proliferation may be more of a danger to Israel than to any other nation. Israel should reconsider the Arrow sale and ensure that its actions reduce this danger.
Richard Speier is a former Pentagon official specializing in missile nonproliferation issues.
Copyright 2003 THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE for Near East Policy 1828 L Street Suite 1050 Washington, D.C. 20036(202) 452-0650 FAX (202) 223-5364 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The global defense industry is constantly shaping how borders are protected, wars are fought, terrorists are tracked and caught, and global security maintained. We aim to track news, policy, military exercises and strategic affairs between the world's largest democracies - India and the United States.
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