FBI sting on India defense industry figures

The FBI has arrested two Indian nationals running an electronics company in South Carolina, and cited two unnamed Indian government officials as “co-conspirators” in the alleged export of sensitive dual-use items to three Indian entities: Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), for possible use in production of missiles and missile-launch vehicles; the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), for use in the development of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft; and Bharat Dynamics Limited for various defense projects.

According to the FBI, these items include special heat-resistant computer chips with applications in missile guided systems, capacitors, semi-conductors, rectifiers, resistors and microprocessors for use in aircraft navigation systems. The items were reportedly exported between 2002 and 2006 in violation of licencing rules and the US Arms Export Control Act.

The two arrested are Parthasarathy Sudarshan, who founded Cirrus Electronics in Singapore in 1997 and was the firm’s CEO when he moved to the US in 2004 with a legal residence permit; and Mythili Gopal, a permanent US resident who launched Cirrus USA in 2003 at Simpsonville, SC.

Two Indian government officials have also been mentioned as “co-conspirators,” and one of them is said to be an official at the Indian embassy in Washington. The other is said to be an official of the ADE, an entity of India’s Defense Ministry. (Indian Express, March 30)

As we have noted, the recent US-India nuclear technology deal was nearly explicitly a bribe to induce India to drop plans to build a gas pipeline to Iran. India has refused to drop the pipeline plan—and this appears to be the backlash.

See our last posts on India and Iran.