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Block weapons sale to Pakistan, Indian-Americans to Senators
Dharam Shourie in New York | December 28, 2006 00:17 IST
Citing Islamabad's dismal proliferation record for conventional and nuclear weapons, Indian-Americans have asked their Senators to block the Bush administration's move to push through the sale of a $2 billion package of advanced military equipment to Pakistan.
If the sales go through, they said in e-mails sent to the Senators, the sophisticated weapons might find their way into the hands of Taliban, Iraqi insurgents, Iranians and North Koreans.
Given the history of the nuclear and conventional defence proliferation and cooperation between North Korea and Pakistan in the nuclear field, there is no guarantee that some of these "TOW 2A and RF bunker buster missiles will not find their way to the North Koreans," the e-mails warned.
In a campaign spearheaded by Washington-based US-India Friendship, the Indian-Americans have protested against possible sales which involve up to 2,769 Radio Frequency TOW 2A missiles, 415 RF bunker buster missiles, 121 TOW launches for wire-guided and wireless missiles, E-2C Hawkeye 2000 Airborne Early Warning Systems, simulators and support equipment worth about 1.04 missiles.
The protest follows the Defence Cooperation Agency notifying Congress on December 7 of two possible military sales to Pakistan of advanced weapons, association equipment and services ostensibly to help in the fight against terror.
This is a serious decision that has been taken in the period between the outgoing Congress and the newly-elected House, the protests noted and warned that if the sales go through, they will take place without Congressional oversight into a sale of high-tech and possible dual use military equipment, with serious national security implications.
India, the e-mails said, is a "valued" trading partner of the US. Many US corporations have some or all of their back-office functions being performed in India.
The country has the second largest middle-class in the world, a bonanza for US companies seeking untapped or unsaturated markets.
India, they said, is politically the most stable in an arc of instability and repression stretching from the Middle-East all the way to the Pacific rim. India is a geopolitical partner that could help police the waters of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf in the event of a threat to shipping on those important trade routes.
India's security and US security interests are inextricably linked. This sale could compromise both, they warned.
They urged the Senators to ask for a deferment of the sales so that "you can perform your constitutionally required duty of oversight" into a matter with far-reaching US national security interests.
"With the Iraq war threatening to spill across its borders into other regions, the US should not be exacerbating matters by a sale of such high-tech weapons that could fall into anti-US hands," they added.
As there is "considerable sympathy" for the Taliban in Pakistani intelligence and army circles, they noted, there is a likelihood of some TOW 2A and RF bunker buster missiles being "stolen" and finding their way into Taliban hands.
They could then be used against coalition and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in eastern Afghanistan, they warned.
TOW RF bunker busters, they pointed out, could be potentially modified (with small amounts of radioactive fissile material) by forces inimical to US coalition and NATO forces for use as "dirty bombs" in areas such as the Green Zone in Baghdad and in Kabul against the democratically elected government of Afghanistan.
A point that merits attention, they said, is the idea of strategic depth for Iran against the US in a possible war in the Iraq-Iran border.
"What is to prevent TOW 2A and RF bunker busters from being used against US and coalition forces? This would lend strategic depth to Iranian forces in a defensive action against US were such a conflict to occur," they asked.
"How would Iran get a hold of TOW 2A and RF bunker buster missiles?" The answer, the protestors said, does require making a small leap of faith which is not too far-fetched in these days of "politics making strange bedfellows".
"Pakistan's economy is developing and with that its appetite for energy. There is competition for Iranian energy amongst the nations of Europe and Asia. Anti-US interests in Pakistan (with or without the connivance of the government in Islamabad) could conceivably give or sell some of these weapons to Iran just across the border in exchange for long-term Iranian natural gas supplies to Pakistan," they added.