November 29, 2001 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Yesterday, Peruvian Defense Minister David Waisman affirmed that he will "give away" the state-of-the-art Russian missiles that his country's Air Force has, if Chile will decide to abort the purchase of F-16s.
Waisman also conditioned the purchase of new airplanes to replace the MiG-29s that have already completed their useful life to a decision by our country not to purchase the US combat airplanes.
does not buy the F-16s, there is no reason for us to replenish" the Air Force, the officer told Radio Cooperativa following a meeting with the Peruvian Congress.
He affirmed that his government is willing to increase the "frankness" initiated by Chile on defense matters.
"This is directed to those in Chile who are a bit scared; fortunately, they are very few... If Chile does not buy the F-16s, we will give away the medium-range missiles that some Chileans are so afraid of... not all of them are, though," he said.
Yesterday Defense Minister Mario Fernandez declined to refer to this issue following a meeting at La Moneda to coordinate the future intelligence agency.
This is not the first time that the controversial Peruvian politician, who has been criticized by his country's political sectors because of his lack of experience in defense issues, has made statements regarding the Chilean military purchases.
Both President Ricardo Lagos and Defense Minister Mario Fernandez have underscored that Chile's arms procurements are decided in Chile.
The first bilateral meeting between both countries to discuss military issues took place last August, based on a disarmament request raised by the government of Alejandro Toledo.
On that occasion, Waisman also recognized that, since 1995, his country's MiG-29 airplanes have carried Russian medium-range missiles, similar to the ones that the United States has banned for the region.
Senate Defense Committee Chairman Senator Jaime Gazmuri (PS) [Socialist Party] declined to go deeper into the remarks by the Peruvian minister and affirmed that "light statements should not be made about such matters."
The legislator explained that Chile is only renewing obsolete equipment, although he considered Peru's intention not to renew their own to be "reasonable."
"Due to absolutely domestic reasons, I would rather postpone the decision on the F-16s until we have a more efficient system to discuss and approve military procurement," Gazmuri said.