Sale of Arrow Missile Systems Put on Hold

By Ori Nir

Published September 12, 2003, issue of September 12, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

WASHINGTON — In response to negative reactions from the Bush administration, Israel is putting off attempts to sell the Arrow missile-defense systems to India.

Pro-Israel lobbyists have recently raised the issue with senior officials at the State and Defense departments and congressional staffers, according to Jewish activists in Washington, as well as congressional and diplomatic sources. Israel would require American approval before selling the Arrow systems to India, but sources say that Bush administration officials have made it clear to Jerusalem that they do not support such a deal. As a result, sources said, Israel is putting off any formal request.

“The issue is not on the agenda between the two governments,” an official Israeli spokesman said.

The Arrow is a centerpiece of American-Israeli strategic cooperation, having been developed, manufactured and tested chiefly by Israeli scientists, in cooperation with American colleagues. The cost of the project is being split between the two countries. Upon completion, Israel is expected to end up covering 60% of the price tag, which is estimated at more than $1 billion.

Officials at the State and Defense departments and the National Security Council are objecting to the sale on several grounds, chief among them the fear that such a move would further destabilize India’s relationship with Pakistan. Another worry is that India will divert sensitive Arrow technology to third parties, possibly countries hostile to the United States.

American officials reportedly told pro-Israel lobbyists that any sale would be premature because Israel has not yet manufactured enough Arrows to fill its rudimentary planned arsenal of three batteries. Only one of the two batteries that have so far been deployed is fully operational, according to Israeli sources. However, one pro-Israel lobbyist said, Israel would be ready to start exporting the system in 2007 and should not be precluded from arranging future deals before then.

According to Israeli media reports, the country’s military industry advised Prime Minister Sharon not to bring up the possibility of an Arrow deal during his visit this week to India. All the directors of Israel’s major military industries joined Sharon on his trip, including the head of Israel Aircraft Industries, which manufactures the Arrow.

According to Indian press reports, an Indian government delegation to Washington this week officially asked the Bush administration to approve an Israeli sale of the Arrow systems to New Delhi.

Richard Speier, a former Pentagon official and independent consultant specializing in nonproliferation issues, last week suggested a creative solution to address some of Washington’s concerns. Under his proposal, instead of selling the system to India, Jerusalem would agree to deploy Arrow batteries to India and staff them with Israelis. The arrangement would resemble the one adopted during the first Gulf war, when the American military operated Patriot missile batteries in Israel.

There is no indication that the idea is being taken seriously by any of the countries involved.

Despite the holdup involving the Arrow systems, Israel and India have forged strong military ties in recent years. Last month, after long delays, Washington approved the sale of three Israeli-made, Phalcon advanced airborne radar systems to India. The deal is expected to earn Israel about $1 billion.

In recent years, Israeli Aircraft Industries signed several large contracts with the Indian Air Force, including sales of unmanned aerial vehicles and laser-guided bombs, according to a report by the Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Negotiations reportedly are in advanced stages for Israel to provide fire control systems and thermal imagers for the Indian army’s Russian-made T-72 tank fleet, Jinsa reported.

Find us on Facebook!
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.