WASHINGTON, March 14: An employee of the Indian Embassy in Washington and Indian government agencies conspired with an Indian businessman to obtain secret weapons technology from US companies, the US Justice Department said on Friday.
The technology they tried to smuggle to India included microprocessors and electronic components used in the development of ballistic missiles, space launch vehicles and fighter jets.
The businessman, Parthasarathy Sudarshan, entered a guilty plea in a federal court in Washington on Thursday, admitting that he was part of the arms conspiracy.
The plea suggests that the Indian government violated a ‘pledge’ made in 2004 that it would not try to bypass US export-control laws and regulations imposed after India tested a nuclear weapon in 1998.
Documents by the Justice Department showed that Mr Sudarshan worked closely with an Indian Embassy employee identified only as “co-conspirator A”.
At one point, according to court documents, Mr Sudarshan advised the official that a shipment of microprocessors for combat aircraft “is leaving for Singapore, as we do not want it to be held up at US customs for want of business registration and export code numbers, etc”.
The Indian Embassy, when contacted, refused to comment on the guilty plea or the documents released by the US government.
At the Justice Department, US Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor said Mr Sudarshan “participated in a clandestine network that circumvented our export laws and put sophisticated technology in the hands of foreign companies that were listed as end-users of concern for proliferation reasons”.
US Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L. Wainstein warned that the United States would not allow foreign entities to illegally acquire American technology.
Mr Sudarshan, 47, of Simpsonville, South Carolina, is the chief executive of Cirrus Electronics, which has offices in Simpsonville, Singapore and Bangalore in India. Among the recipients of his illegal exports were the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, an enterprise within the Indian Department of Space, and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, which is associated with the Indian Ministry of Defence. Both enterprises are on the US Department of Commerce’s Entity List, which restricts exports of US technologies to these companies.
Between 2002 and 2006, Mr Sudarshan acquired electrical components with applications in missile guidance and firing systems in the United States for both enterprises.
In particular, in the case of at least two US vendors, Mr Sudarshan and others at Cirrus provided the US companies with fraudulent certificates that claimed that the end-users of these electrical components were non-restricted entities in India, when, in fact, the items were for the Sarabhai Centre.
In addition to supplying the Sarabhai Centre and Bharat Dynamics with components, Mr Sudarshan acquired microprocessors for the Tejas, a fighter jet under development in India.
On two occasions in 2004 and 2006, Cirrus shipped a total of 500 microprocessors to the Aeronautical Development Establishment, an enterprise within the Indian Ministry of Defence.