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Why US missed India’s 1974 N-tests

world Updated: Dec 08, 2011 02:08 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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The US intelligence missed India’s first nuclear test in May 1974, show recently declassified documents. They were just not paying adequate attention to India, reveal the files.

They would miss it again, exactly 24 years later in 1998. Now they were paying attention, but not enough to catch the Indians evading the surveillance satellite cameras.

“In the months prior to India’s 18 May nuclear test, the intelligence community failed to warn US decision makers that such a test was being planned,” said a 1974 classified document, Post-Mortem Report: An examination of the Intelligence Community’s Performnce Before the Indian Nuclear Test of May 1974.

Prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency, it was declassified recently and made public on Monday by National Security Archive of the George Washington University.

“Nixon administration policymakers had given a relatively low priority to the Indian program and there was ‘no sense of urgency’ to determine whether New Delhi was preparing to test a nuclear device,” the archives said in its post.

President Richard Nixon and his national security advisor Henry Kissinger were focussed on the Vietnam war, and their historic breakthrough in relations with China, at that time.