On January 21, 2008 an Indian space launch vehicle lifted off from the Sriharikota spaceport on the Indian Ocean to put into space Israel’s most sophisticated spy satellite ever launched, the Polaris. The commercial launch of Polaris by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) underscored the growing military and intelligence connections between Israel and India. The United States helped inspire this relationship and has a strong interest in its success. Though unique in the military cooperation realm, this is but one of several evolving relationships between Israel and great or emerging powers that deserves attention.
Israel and India only established formal diplomatic relations in 1991 with the Madrid Arab-Israeli peace process creating a favorable diplomatic context for New Delhi to move beyond informal contacts that existed before 1990. Then President Bush’s National Security Council staff worked closely behind the scenes with Prime Minister Rao’s embassy in Washington to make this happen. Military-to-military contacts and defense interaction followed.
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