View Full Version : India's helping Iran with missile technology, U.S. says shhhhhh

Cloak & Swagger
07-30-2006, 07:26 AM
US took 'secret decision' on Indian firms: Post


2006-07-29 18:30:02

Washington - The US administration took a 'secret decision' to impose sanctions on two Indian firms for selling missile parts to Iran without informing the US Congress or New Delhi, according to the Washington Post.

As the issue is highly sensitive for negotiators still working on the India nuclear deal, the government had not yet told officials in New Delhi of the decision, the daily reported Saturday citing unnamed officials. They declined to identify the two Indian companies, but said both worked with missile-related technologies.

Officials acknowledged privately that the 'secret decision' should have been shared with the House of Representatives before it voted Wednesday to support US plans to sell nuclear technology to New Delhi, the newspaper said.

It is not the first time Indian companies have been sanctioned for supplying Iran's suspected weapons programmes, the daily said, but the timing of the sanctions, which are being imposed during fighting between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia, elicited angry responses from Democrats and arms-control experts.

The post quoted administration officials as saying they briefed selected lawmakers on the impending sanctions. But Democratic lawmakers accused the White House of deliberately concealing the information until the House voted Wednesday overwhelmingly in favour of the US plan to supply India, for the first time, with sensitive nuclear technologies.

'The (George) Bush administration deliberately deceived Congress by withholding information about these violations by Indian companies before we voted,' it quoted Democrat Edward Markey as saying. Markey had proposed an amendment to the US-India nuclear bill that dealt with transfers of missile technology from India to Iran, but it was defeated.

Bush administration officials have said that Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon are using Iranian-made rockets against Israeli civilians, leading some Democrats to question whether Indian companies may be involved in manufacturing the rockets, the Washington Post said.

Under the Iran-Syria Non-proliferation Act, the president is required to report to Congress periodically on illicit weapons suppliers to both countries. The July 1 report is overdue, according to administration officials, because the State Department staff is backed up.

At a congressional hearing last week, Francis C. Record, the acting assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation, testified that he did not know why it was late. He also said that he did not recall whether any Indian companies were named in the report, the Post said.

In an effort to sell the India deal to lawmakers, US officials have stressed that despite India's other alliances, the world's largest democracy does not pose a proliferation risk or a threat to the United States, but the Bush administration's actions suggest it does not see India's record as free of blemishes, it said.

On the same day that Bush was in India this March to announce progress on the nuclear deal, two Iranian naval ships carrying several hundred sailors docked at the Indian port of Kochi to begin five days of joint exercises, part of an extensive agreement Tehran and New Delhi signed in 2003, the daily said.

The port call-and the broader issue of India's military, scientif

ic and economic ties with Iran-has raised apprehension on Capitol Hill and among nuclear specialists, the Post suggested.

'The Indians are building a port in Iran, they are building roads, they have joint military exercises,' the daily quoted Henry D. Sokolski, who runs the conservative-leaning Non-proliferation Policy Education Center, as saying. 'The Indians, for a variety of reasons, see utility in doing risky things with Iran.'

Last year, at the height of the US-India negotiations, two other Indian companies were sanctioned for supplying material to Iran's suspected chemical weapons programme. The companies have protested but remain on a sanctions list in the Federal Register, the daily said.

Last September, two Indian nuclear scientists were accused of providing Tehran with technology that could contribute to 'the development of weapons of mass destruction.' The order against one was later rescinded, but the second remains banned from travelling to the United States, the Post said.