Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2005 and the NSG waiver in 2008 shifter the power balance towards India and made the region more vulnerable. The move was seen as the exceptional measure and the official recognition of India being a Nuclear State by the US. It allowed India to start purchasing nuclear technology and boost up its capability.
It was also the pretext of India’s entrance into the Nuclear Supplier Group. This has opened up the arena of intense coordination between Israel and India to share the military technologies with the inclusion of outer-space collaboration.
Defence Ties between India and Israel
The strategic and military ties between India and Israel have always been the cause of concern and disturbance for Pakistan. It is highly speculated that India and Israel had planned the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear sites in the infamous 1984 incident which was intercepted by Pakistani Intelligence. Nevertheless, Indo-Israel relations continued to thrive especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 – the major arms supplier of India. Since then, due to advanced high-tech weapons, Israel became the alternative market for India as the latter is now the purchaser of nearly 50% of Israel’s arms exports according to SIPRI.
The selling of arms is the main factor in Israel’s Defence Doctrine as it gives strength to Israel’s position in the Middle East and beyond. Similarly, acquiring sophisticated weapons from Israel allows India to excel in the arms race with Pakistan, its main security rival. The major step in this regards was taken when both the states signed the agreement of combating “Islamic Fundamentalism” in 2003. This became the indirect precedent of cooperation between the two states in their respective struggles of containing the Palestinian and Kashmiri Movements. For India, the threat from Kashmiri Mujahideens which it considers having the backing of Pakistan is the main contentious issue. Similarly, for Israel, the Palestine Issue and the repeated security threats from Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad of which Iran is the main sponsor, has been the cause of apprehension. By mutually understanding the need for combating Islamic Extremism, both have agreed to provide each other with the necessary security measures.
Nuclear Collaboration and the Militarization of Space
Both India and Israel are not the signatories of NPT and thereby, are not burdened by the adherence to nuclear collaboration. Although both have denied any nuclear engagement with each other, however, it is the established fact that Israel helped India in achieving its “Nuclear Triad” through the developing of ELM-2248 MF-STAR radar system and MRSAM missiles – the latter one is more commonly known as BARAK-8 for naval vessels i.e. submarines.
Furthermore, the collaboration of both states regarding space is evident. Not only India launched an Israeli spy-satellite in 2009 but Israeli also helped India in the development of the anti-satellite system (ASAT) through the transfer of Green Pine Radar. ASAT is the major leap towards the shared concepts of both India and Israel regarding space-weaponization. The motive was also shared in 2011 policy paper presented in Tel Aviv which was thematically aimed at increasing space cooperation between India and Israel to match up the speed of space weaponization and the development of ASAT to deter the activities of the adversaries. For India, the strategic matrix in which it is developing its ties with Israel is embedded in countering Pakistan and taking the strategic advantage over it in the region.
Implications for Pakistan
Indian advancements in space technology have disturbed the status quo in the Subcontinent. With the assistance of Israel, the launching of ASAT has given India the upper hand in the supervising the regional dynamics. ASAT has also contributed to the deterring capability of India to neutralize any attack through the intelligence gathering and enhancing border security. The enhanced cooperation of Israel with India also serves Israeli interests. Being apprehensive of Pakistan’s Nuclear Program, the cooperation is aimed at limiting the strategic and tactical progress of Pakistan in nuclear missiles technology.
Through the militarization of space, Pakistan’s minimum deterrence capability would eventually go into absentia. The Space collaboration between India and Israel is embedded in the larger matrix of multilateral cooperation. Through enhancing the military ties with India, Israel is speculated to hold naval bases in the Indian Ocean. This would allow Israel to offset the Iranian threat. But the presence of Israeli military in the Indian Ocean would also imbalance Pakistan’s naval capability and would greatly limit the scope of Pakistan in maritime affairs.
Pakistan Space Program is relatively infant in terms of progress and lacks any sophisticated mechanism of equalising the belligerent Indian behaviour. The historic inferiority of Pakistan in military affairs, owing to less number of personnel and smaller military budget, was overcome through the acquisition of Nuclear Warheads. The Nuclear Environment generally favoured Pakistan by eliminating Indian superiority and maintaining the status quo.
The widened gap was further bridged through the tactical nuclear weapons, capable of using under a limited scale. However, Indian ambitious plan of space exploration along with the militarizing tactics has yet again brought India to the forefront of exercising the military adventure with Pakistan with impunity. This dual policy of restraining Pakistan through space and ocean by India and Israel respectively requires Pakistan to take the pre-emptive measures by enhancing its aerospace sector.
(This article is Part 1 of the two-part series about the broader theme of Space Militarization in Subcontinent)
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.