Senior Clinton administration officials have told The New York Times that Russia is aiding India in a program to develop a sea-launched cruise missile that would be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead deep into Pakistan. The administration officials say that they first conveyed their concerns to the Russian government in 1995. But the assistance, they say, has continued despite assurances from the Kremlin that Russian scientists are not transferring restricted technology to the Indian missile program. (The New York Times, April 27)
The issue is of particular importance due to, first, mounting tensions between India and Pakistan and, second, evidence of a spiraling arms race in the region. Earlier this month, Pakistan tested a nuclear missile of its own capable of striking anywhere in India. Moscow has long ties to India, and has reemerged in the post-Soviet period as New Delhi’s major arms supplier. The Kremlin has concurrently refused to pursue weapons deals with Pakistan, despite recent efforts by Islamabad to both improve ties and explore the possibility of military-technical cooperation with Russia.
In addition to this regional dimension, yesterday’s New York Times’ report suggests a broader failure by Moscow to control its exports of missile-related technology. Until now, the Clinton administration has reportedly focused more attention on stopping what the United States and Israel says is significant Russian aid to Iran’s ballistic missile development efforts. Because Washington has not been able to determine fully the nature of Russia’s aid to India, U.S. experts were said to be divided on whether it constitutes a clear violation of a 1993 Russian-U.S. agreement to stop the export of Russian missile technology. They say, however, that it does violate the spirit of that agreement. When queried, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday that it “has no information on this issue.” An Indian Defense Ministry spokesman has reportedly denied The New York Times report. (AP, April 27)
IRANIAN-RUSSIAN COOPERATION REMAINS A U.S. CONCERN.