People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 06

February 10, 2008


Israeli Satellite Launch: Harmful Course

THE launch of an Israeli satellite - TecSar - into orbit from Sriharikota marks a decisive step in India's security collaboration with Israel. The claim that this is purely a commercial proposition of utilising the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle to launch satellites of other countries is untenable. The Israeli satellite launch is different.

Since the Indian government is not forthcoming with the details of the agreement with Israel and since complete secrecy was maintained till the launch, what has become known about the satellite has come mainly from Israeli sources. The Israeli media have widely reported the launch of the satellite and its significance. What can be pieced together is as follows:

The decision to launch the satellite was reached three years ago during the visit of the then Israeli defence ministry director general, Amos Yaron. As per the agreement, two more satellites are to be launched.

The TecSar is the most advanced Israeli satellite developed so far. TecSar has a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). This makes it capable of heightened surveillance capability. According to the Defense Update, “The new satellite will increase Israel's surveillance capability by `opening the night,' increasing the `target revisit' rate, overcoming enemy concealment and deception techniques.” The TecSar is more advanced than the Ofek satellite series Israel had launched into space earlier. The Israeli Aerospace Industries developed the satellite in collaboration with the US firm, Northrop Grumman.

As the Israeli media have widely commented, this satellite is intended to spy on Iran. Syria is another country which will also be under the satellite's surveillance. The term used by Israeli officials to describe Iran and other countries which the satellite will spy upon is “enemy” countries. The Israeli daily, Haaretz, headlined the launch as `Satellite launch bolsters ability to spy on Tehran.' The same newspaper carried an analysis titled `New Israeli spy satellite sends Iran a message' which notes that, “The launch is also an expression of the growing cooperation between Israel and India in the security sphere as a whole, and in particular in the fields of missiles, radar and satellites.…. On the other hand, Iran, which has close ties with India, which in the past supplied Tehran with materials and equipment for developing chemical weaponry, would be expected to be angry with India over the launch of an Israeli satellite.”

The ISRO chief sought to play down the nature of the satellite by saying that “Imaging satellites had a multitude of purposes.” He also said that he is not aware of the content of the satellite. This ingenuous reply cannot cover up the extraordinary nature of the launch. Contrary to normal practice, the media were kept out of the launch site. The ISRO director said this was because the Israelis wanted completed secrecy. Unlike the commercial launch of an Italian satellite last year, where the Italian representatives were present at the media conference, Israeli officials did not appear before the media though they were present at the site. India has not launched such a military satellite of any other country from its space facilities.

Israel has not hidden its wish to attack and destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel is the only country in the world which has occupied the other countries' territory for over 40 years. The fact is that Israel is a colonial occupying power. The satellite launch took place at a time when Gaza was under siege and blockade, and 1.5 million Palestinians are being starved and deprived of essential supplies. By not condemning the blockade of Gaza, it further confirmed its tilt towards Israel. By launching the Israeli satellite, India has dramatically signalled its change of stance. The Iranian government has expressed its concerns about the Israeli satellite launch.

Alongside of the launch of the Israeli satellite, news comes of India's reluctance to attend talks in Tehran for the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline scheduled to be held in the second week of February. Time and again, India is adopting a go-slow approach with the US constantly demanding India abandon the pipeline project.

The UPA government has adopted a harmful course. The US-Israel-India link-up is becoming increasingly evident. Israel has become the second largest supplier of weapons to India after Russia. The satellite launch is part of the burgeoning military and security collaboration with Israel with US blessings. By this alliance with Israel, India is turning its back on its traditional friends in West Asia.

By adopting the same approach as the previous BJP-led government towards Israel, the UPA government is eroding India's traditional ties with the Arab countries and Iran. India is seen more and more as collaborator with Israel. India accords priority to Israel as a partner to fight against terrorism when Israel is responsible for State terrorism, violence and aggression.

The disturbing fact is that India has given up its principled and moral position of support to the Palestinian people, of demanding an end to Israeli occupation and nurturing ties with the countries in West Asia on whom we rely for most of our energy requirements. Political Commentator