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US Approves Advanced Radar Sale By Israel to India


The United States confirmed Monday it has cleared the way for Israel to sell India its advanced "Phalcon" airborne early-warning radar system. A similar Israeli deal with China was vetoed by the United States three years ago.

The Bush administration has given Israel the final go ahead for a reported $1 billion sale of its "Phalcon" radar to India after deciding that the transfer of the sophisticated combat control system would not unduly effect the military balance in South Asia.

The Israeli radar is similar to the AWACS airborne command and control system long in service in the U.S. Air Force, and the United States has wielded an effective veto over its transfer to third countries because it is understood to incorporate some U.S. technology.

At a news briefing, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the United States had opposed the sale to India because of the high state of military tensions between Indian and Pakistan in recent years. But he said it was decided to let the deal proceed now, with the South Asian situation easing.

"We've been discussing this potential sale with Israel for several years, and in the past we have expressed concern that heightened tensions between Indian and Pakistan made the transfer inadvisable. It was really an issue of timing. But we feel that recent developments in the South Asian region have eased some of those concerns. And so that's why we've informed the two governments that we have no objections to that transfer," Mr. Reeker said.

Confirmation of the Bush administration's consent for the sale followed a Washington visit by a senior Indian defense team last week.

In July, 2000, the Clinton administration blocked a proposed Israeli sale of the "Phalcon" system to China, also worth a reported one billion dollars, on grounds that it would have upset the military balance in the Taiwan Straits.

China had partly paid for the system, and the U.S. veto set off a diplomatic crisis and a costly legal battle between Israel and China over compensation due Beijing for the canceled contract.