U.S. national security experts are concerned that a three-way arms
race — between China, Pakistan and India — to dominate Asia may lead
to war.

The T-90 main battle tank, the most modern tank in the Russian
army arsenal, went into low-level production in 1993. India is buying
310 T-90 tanks to counter Pakistan’s recent addition of T-85 tanks.

On Oct. 5, after a four-day state visit to India, Russian President
Vladimir Putin concluded a deal selling over $3 billion in new arms and
nuclear technology.

The Russian weapons sale to New Delhi includes 150 advanced Sukhoi
SU-30 strike fighters, over 300 new T-90 battle tanks and the former
Soviet aircraft carrier Gorshkov. India is also reported to be
negotiating with Russia to purchase up to 30 Tupolev Tu-26 bombers, NATO
codenamed “Backfire.”

The Indian navy is acquiring the former Soviet carrier Admiral
Gorshkov to replace the retired INS Vikrant for $750 million as part of
a $3 billion defense deal.

“The Gorshkov carrier, nuclear submarine technology, and Backfire
bombers all mean that Russia is helping India in its quest to deter
China,” said Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Institute.

“Make no mistake — Russia’s goal is to corral India and China into
an anti-U.S. alignment. One of the greatest future tests for American
leadership will be to prevent this by offering Indians a more just and
profitable alignment with America,” said Fisher. “Succeeding in this
test may well determine whether democracies can deter China in the next

According to an Oct. 11 article published in Janes Defense, “India
agrees $3 billion arms deal with Russia,” Russia is also violating an
international nuclear weapons control agreement.

“Under an agreement signed two years ago, Russia is helping India
build two civilian nuclear power plants of 1,000 megawatts each for $2.6
billion in southern Tamil Nadu state,” states the Janes article.

“Moscow also breached the nuclear blockade against New Delhi during
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s four-day visit to India by discreetly
signing a memorandum of understanding on intensifying bilateral
co-operation in the peaceful use of atomic energy.”

“I can’t comment on this,” said a source at the Russian embassy
military attache’s office in Washington, D.C., that requested his name
not be released. “We know about this from the mass media, but Moscow
has not sent any details yet.”

“Unfortunately, the Cold War has left many mutual suspicions that are
only sustained by large Russian arms sales,” noted Fisher.

“This recent arms sale confirms that Russia has understood for much
longer than America that India is the future fulcrum for strategic
ascendance in Asia. It is time for the U.S. to demonstrate to the
world’s largest democracy that it should be aligned with the world’s
most powerful democracy. This will require that the U.S. get past
India’s nuclearization and understand that India will be the next great

The giant Russian arms sale to India has raised concerns inside rival
Pakistan. Tensions between India and Pakistan have been high since 1998
when both nations resumed testing of nuclear weapons. India and
Pakistan also recently fought a fierce battle over the disputed Kashmir

Pakistan is widely seen as backed by China. According to documents
obtained from the Clinton administration, China sold Pakistan 34
nuclear-tipped M-11 missiles in 1992. The M-11 missiles are based at
Sargodha air force base, west of Lahore, next to the Pakistani plutonium
reactor at Khushab.

Chinese M-11 missiles stand ready to fire during recent
military exercises.
China has expanded its short-range missile force to include several
hundred M-11 missiles, stationed in Tibet facing India and on the
Chinese mainland opposite Taiwan.

China reportedly assisted Pakistan in developing an advanced
plutonium warhead for the M-11 missiles. China also recently built a
missile-production facility for Pakistan and the M-11 is produced in
Pakistan as the Shaheen missile.

China quickly reacted to the arms sale to rival India by using it as
further evidence of the need for continuing the expansion of the
People’s Liberation Army. The Chinese government recently defended its
military build-up with the release of a new Army white paper and by
staging a series of military war games. The document, entitled “China’s
National Defense in 2000,” also repeated China’s longstanding threat to
use “drastic force” to prevent Taiwan independence or if Taiwan stalled
indefinitely on reunification talks.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, “The PLA has the
absolute determination, confidence, ability and means to safeguard state
sovereignty and territorial integrity and will never tolerate, condone
or remain indifferent to the realization of any scheme to divide the

“The Chinese build-up makes sense to me,” said defense analyst and
author Norman Polmar. “Although, they have many better uses for the
funds,” he said, noting the current poor Chinese economy.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin watches recent Army exercises
that featured newly acquired Russian weapons. Jiang has stated that he
fully supports the massive expansion of the People’s Liberation Army.
Image from China State Television.

Despite an economic downturn, China underscored its recent massive
military build-up by concluding a series of war games this month.
According to the official Chinese state television news, Chinese
President Jiang Zemin witnessed the military war games. The official
Chinese television state news featured newly acquired Russian weapons
being employed by the People’s Liberation Army, including SU-27 Flanker
jet fighters, and Il-76 jet transports.

The military exercises culminated with the firing of an unspecified
number of DF-15 mobile ballistic missiles. The People’s Liberation Army
Second Artillery Corps is known to deploy the mobile DF-15 inside Tibet
opposite Indian forces and along the Chinese mainland opposite Taiwan.

PLA 2nd Artillery fires a DF-15 missile during recent war
games. China has added several hundred DF-15 missiles to its force in
the past 24 months.

“India’s build-up is a response to the Chinese military build-up,”
stated Jack Spencer, a defense analyst from the Heritage Foundation.

“Both nations have fought border wars in the disputed Tibet areas and
both nations must naturally strive for some sort of military parity in
Asia. Russia is supplying India, China and Pakistan with ballistic
missile technology. It’s not going to take a long time for all three
nations to develop potent missile forces.”

According to Spencer, the Russian arms sale to India is being used as
an excuse by Beijing to continue its own military build-up.

“The Chinese are fond of doing one thing — saying they are deploying
new military forces as a response to some outside act. But this is not
true,” stated Spencer. “China is going to build an arsenal of all-new
road-mobile ballistic missiles. China is using the Russian arms sales
as one of many excuses in order to continue building a first-rate
nuclear force. China frequently cites the non-existent U.S.
anti-missile system as a reason for its expansion of nuclear forces,” he

“The hundreds of M-11 short-range missiles that arm the Chinese
military will soon be joined by advanced long-range DF-31 and DF-41
ICBMs that can reach America,” concluded Spencer. “I believe that
Beijing’s ultimate goal is regional and finally global dominance.”

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