U.S. formally announces permission for Phalcon sale to India
The United States officially announced Monday that it is removing all opposition to Israel's sale of the Phalcon airborne radar system to India.
A year-and-a-half ago, Israel and India agreed to the deal, and the Americans gave their approval in principle. But in early 2002, the U.S. asked Israel to postpone the sale because of rising tensions between India and Pakistan.
State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the U.S. had recently informed the two countries that it no longer had any objections to the deal.
He said that in the past, the U.S. had refused to okay the sale on the grounds that it was wrong to sell such intelligence technology to India given the tensions along its border with Pakistan.
But, said Reeker, the U.S. now felt that the developments on the ground have eased the concerns on this matter and as a result the decision to allow the sale was taken.
The American decision to lift its objection to the sale was first reported in Haaretz in May, although the official announcement from Washington only came Monday.
In May, Haaretz said that the administration had given the Defense Ministry a green light for the $1 billion deal, without any conditions or limitations.
The Phalcon is a long-range Israeli-made radar mounted on a Russian-built cargo plane. The radar will extend the range of the Indian air force, enabling very long-range identification of targets and control over the weapons aimed at them.
There is no American equipment on the plane, but Israel coordinates its defense sales with Washington since it vetoed a similar sale to China three years ago, sparking a diplomatic crisis with Beijing.