Pakistan Observer

India may agree to deploy NATO missile system

China, Pakistan, Iran to feel the heat

Akhtar Jamal

Monday, September 05, 2011 - Islamabad—Reports circulating in Russian media are warning of the possibility that India may allow deployment of NATO missile shield in order to win the Western backing against rival China and Pakistan.

The Voice of Russia’s senior analyst, Mikhail Berestov reported on September 2, 2011 “No great wonder, appropriate overtures are being made to New Delhi and India may join non-NATO powers like Australia and Russia in cooperating with NATO.”

The report suggested that India may be allowed a role “on normalizing Afghanistan, staging wargames, combating terrorism, drug trade and cyberspace crime and exploring possibilities for regional and global missile defence.”

U.S. NATO Ambassador Ivo Daalder was quoted as suggesting that India should abandon its non-aligned role and join NATO. Voice of Russian analyst quoted Robert Pshel, head of NATO’s Information Office in Moscow as saying “I agree with Mr Daalder that many modern threats are global, and tackling them without emerging powers like India is hardly possible.”

Dr Boris Volkonsky of the Russian Strategic Research Institute was quoted as seeing a link to the regional wars currently waged by NATO.

“What next for Libya after Gaddafi is history and what next for Afghanistan after the announced pullout deadline of 2014 is fuel for guesswork. In the meantime, this August was America’s bloodiest month in Afghanistan. An ally like India would strengthen Washington’s hand in South and Southwest Asia and other world areas.”

One ulterior motive may also be at work, namely, that of shared Indian and American fear of the rising dragon of China, the report added.

According to the Voice of Russia report “observers in Russia call attention to the fact that the American ABM overtures to India coincide with announcements about planned interceptor positions in Rumania and an early-warning radar in Turkey.”

The United States and India have already studied the possibility of a joint missile defence system but former Defence Secretary Robert Gates had stressed that “talks were only in their early stages.”

Until now, India’s policy had been to develop its missile shield domestically, closing a potential multibillion-dollar market to American manufacturers Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman Corp — the biggest players in the emerging ground, air, sea and space based U.S. missile defence system.

But this may be changing in line with a breakthrough Indian decision to buy Lockheed’s C-130J military transport aircraft.

According to regional defence observers the deployment of any NATO missile shield in India will set alarm bells ringing not only in China and Pakistan but also in Iran and Russia.

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