I’m going to go way out on a speculative limb on this one. But that UAE cargo plane carrying weapons to China that was detained while refueling in India suddenly seems like more than just a simple case of bad timing. The plane was detained while the Indian internal security minister was visiting Washington for talks on security (and counterterrorism) cooperation. It’s now emerging that there were some suspicions that the weapons on the plane included U.S.-manufactured Harpoon missiles sold to the UAE. And all this goes down at the same time a UAE crown prince is “making the rounds” in Washington to convince Congress about the UAE’s commitment to export controls and technology transfers.
I’m not sure where all this admittedly circumstantial evidence would lead if it did add up. The fact that the plane was allowed to continue on to China suggests that suspicions of trans-shipments were unwarranted. It’s also important to keep in mind that the UAE’s civilian nuclear ambitions do not depend on the U.S. 123 Agreement in the same way India’s efforts to open its domestic market did. France, for instance, is already in the running to build the UAE reactors.
But I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that whatever happened in the Calcutta airport had something to do with someone who didn’t want to see the U.S.-UAE deal go through.