Israel today said that any problems in the earlier-proposed Spike anti-tank missile deal with India can be solved, thereby indicating that the deal may still be alive. This comes in the wake of reports that India had cancelled the US$ 500 million contract.

Official sources reported on condition of anonymity that the IA has prevailed upon the MoD to execute part of the terminated tender by importing 5,500-odd Spike anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and 275 launchers via an inter-governmental agreement (IGA), instead of a commercial deal with Rafael.

They said, however, that the transfer of technology being negotiated earlier to licence-build about 30,000 ATGMs would not be part of the IGA, which is likely to be progressed during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s four-day India visit beginning 14 January.

Speaking on Friday ahead of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's six-day visit to India starting Sunday, Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon said the Spike project could be undertaken by both Indian and Israeli companies and would be part of the "Make in India" initiative if it goes through. Speculation is rife that the two countries could ink a Government-to-Government contract if the deal is to be inked. "If there is a problem, it can be solved," the Israeli envoy said.

The comment was a departure from a strict practice followed by the Israelis, not to speak in public about the highly sensitive and strategic defence ties between the two nations. In the past 15 years, India has acquired sophisticated weaponry and defence platforms and equipment worth billions of dollars from the Jewish State. Meanwhile, Israel on Friday also indicated it was disappointed with the recent move of the Indian Government to vote in favour of a UN resolution opposing the decision of the US to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's Capital but said ties were too strong to be affected by one decision. The Israeli envoy also said, in response to another question, that if there are any problems in the earlier Indian move to buy Israeli Spike anti-tank missiles, “it will be solved”.

Our Bureau