India is assuming the worst-case scenario on the Scorpene leaks, with defence minister Manohar Parrikar saying they are not a “big worry”, but admitted that there were “a few pockets of concern”.
“We are going by assumption of the worst-case scenario. I think there is not a big worry because we will be able to put things in right perspective,” he said, a day after the ministry formed a high-level committee, headed by a vice admiral, to carry out “detailed assessment of potential impact”.
India hasn’t heard anything from French shipbuilder DCNS yet. Six submarines are being licence-produced in India under a `23,562-crore project.
Parrikar said the documents on The Australian newspaper’s website did not contain data on the weapons to be deployed on the submarine, but the Australian journalist, who reported the leak, said it would be put out on Monday with sensitive details redacted.
“India’s defence minister says leaked data on Scorpene Submarines does not include weapons systems. Wrong. We will release weapons docs Monday,” Cameron Stewart, the journalist, tweeted.
The newspaper reported on Tuesday that the documents, running into 22,400 pages, could prove an “intelligence bonanza” for Pakistan and China.
But Parrikar said the navy has assured him that most of the leak was not of concern. It’s unclear on what basis the navy has reached that conclusion as it has not been able to access the massive tranche of documents yet.
India has asked France to probe the leak urgently and share the findings.
“We are waiting for the report. Basically, what is on the website is not of big concern. We are assuming, on our own, that this has leaked and we are taking all precautions,” Parrikar said.
Asked if the scandal could hit the Rafale deal with France, he said, “(How could) you stop using all products from France? Obviously the companies are different, the type of equipment is different and an incident should be punished with whatever contractual punishment is there. It is not intentionally leaked.”