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Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans
for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be
limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI
all over again?
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- 05:02am Mar 15, 2001 EST (#1005
Delhi suspends top defence men
By Jawed Naqvi
NEW DELHI, March 14: The defence ministry on Wednesday placed
under suspension four top defence ministry and army officials after
they were implicated by a news website in an alleged arms bribery
The officers included Maj-Gen P S K Chaudhary, additional
director general (weapons and equipment), who was shown in the video
as accepting Rs100,000 and a gold chain as bribe, and three senior
ministry officials H C Pant, Narendra Singh and P Sasi.
Army headquarters sources said three other army officers shown in
the video had been asked to return to Delhi where they are to be
handed over their suspension orders. One of them is a major general,
other a brigadier and the third a colonel - additional director
general (ordnance), Maj-Gen M S Ahluwalia, prospective procurement
officer, Brigadier Iqbal Singh, and director in the ordnance
services, Colonel Anil Sehgal.
A defence ministry spokesman said strict action would be taken
against other defence officials if "delinquency of conduct" was
The tapes have recorded comments by a host of key players that
have thrown major arms deals, including a $30 billion agreement with
Russia signed last year in a quandary. Of considerable significance
is the establishment of the Commission on Military Technical
Cooperation led by Fernandes and Russia's deputy Prime Minister
Klebanov. The tapes show Russians as used to taking kickbacks.
Defence analysts said last year's deal included a contract for
purchase and assembly of 310 T-90 tanks. The three other
inter-governmental agreements relate to acquisition of the Russian
aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, transfer of technology and
licensed production of 140 Sukhoi-30 MKI multi-role fighters, and
establishment of a bilateral Inter-Governmental Commission on
military technical cooperation.
The acquisition of 310 T-90s, which add up to five armoured
regiments, has been necessitated due to delays in the
indigenously-developed Arjun main battle tank and will seek to
partially replace the aging Vijayanta and T-55 tanks, the analysts
The editor of the website www.tehelka.com, Tarun Tejpal, said he
was shocked that the seven-month long Operation West End was not
uncovered by any one of the interlocutors.
"It was a saga of pure greed," Tejpal said in a discussion on an
Indian TV channel. "It's amazing, I mean, that it's a miracle that
the investigation lasted for seven months and their cover didn't get
blown. It didn't get blown because there was so much greed. These
guys were blinded with greed at every step. I mean, these two guys
were largely amateurs. They didn't understand weapons; they didn't
understand equipment. They knew nothing about financial
transactions. But nobody caught them because the people were only
focussed on money."
Opposition parties stalled parliament throughout the day asking
Vajpayee to eithe
- 05:03am Mar 15, 2001 EST (#1006
Vajpayee to either quit or explain the involvement of ministers
and senior members of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). BJP
President Bangaru Laxman, who resigned on Tuesday, said he had
accepted the money but it was for the party funds and had nothing to
do with any defence deal. The BJP on Wednesday named senior leader
Jana Krishnamurthy as acting president.
Tejpal said a close scrutiny of the tapes would show that there
were many examples of bad equipment being bought, at least one of
them by over-ruling the advice of Professor Abdul Kalam, former head
of India's missile and nuclear development units.
"There is a case of Mr Abdul Kalam. That is a very serious
allegation there, which somebody should be looking at," Tejpal said.
"Where something that Abdul Kalam had said no to, was purchased
because there was a middleman hard at work in getting an equipment
and Abdul Kalam wanted an indigenous missile to be deployed, but
because the middleman was offering very large sums of money, they
actually went and bought it. This is the Barak missile, the
Congress party spokesman and lawyer Kapil Sibal said Abdul Kalam
had wanted the indigenously-built Trishool missiles for the INS
"Then Mr Jain (a middleman named in the tape) mentions on the
tape that he would have the minister overrule that and give it to
Barak. This was done and then Jain says that the minister or some
people told him that the other files for the other seven ships
should also be seen, so that we can get the other seven systems
also," Sibal said in a TV discussion.
Agencies add: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said on
Wednesday that his government was ready to face an inquiry into an
arms bribery scandal, but only after a debate in parliament, United
News of India said.
"There is something fishy," UNI quoted Mr Vajpayee. "Let there be
a discussion in the House," the news agency quoted the prime
minister as saying after a meeting with some of his senior cabinet
PARLIAMENT: Indian parliament was adjourned on Wednesday amid
uproar over the bribery scandal.
The members of parliament, shouting "resign, resign," paid no
heed to appeals by the speakers of the upper house and lower house
for calm, and both houses were promptly adjourned just minutes into
the scheduled session.
DEFENCE MINISTER: Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes had no
plans to resign, his party said on Wednesday.
"George Fernandes has not resigned and has no plans to resign,"
Samata Party Secretary-General and spokesman Shambhu Shrivastwa told
Samata Party President Jaya Jaitly was also implicated in the
documentary. But Mr Shrivastwa said his party was ready for an
inquiry into the "conspiracy".
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