Business as Usual Despite India Scandal

The Israeli-Indian bribery scandal that hit the subcontinent last week has not disrupted cooperation between Israeli and Indian companies, it turns out. The scandal involves suspicions that former Indian defense minister George Fernandes was bribed to purchase seven Barak ship defense missiles from the missile's Israeli manufacturers, Rafael and Israel Aircraft Industries, on behalf of his country.

The Indian press reported over the weekend that the Indian security services have decided to halt development of an alternative ship defense missile, known as the Trishul, and to focus on developing the advanced Barak system.

The latter system would allow missiles to be shot down at a range of 60 kilometers, compared to the nine-kilometer range of the current system.

India's Central Bureau of Investigations found that officials in the Defense Ministry's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) objected to the Barak system during the late 1990s, though Fernandes disputes this claim.

Sources in the organization noted the Trishul missile was developed solely as a technological model, upon which other missiles of the same class could be developed.

The CBI recently announced that it is investigating suspicions that in 2000, Fernandes and associate Jaya Jaitley received a bribe of some $435,000 to push through the Barak deal over DRDO objections. Fernandes charges that the investigation stems from political motives.