US spies knew about two Indian nuclear missiles in 2005, years before launch: Report | india news | Hindustan Times
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US spies knew about two Indian nuclear missiles in 2005, years before launch: Report

Newly released documents from leaked information obtained by Edward Snowden show the US’ National Security Agency knew about Sagarika and Dhanush missiles in 2005.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2017 13:31 IST
HT Correspondent
File photo of the Prithvi-II. The nuclear-capable Dhanush missile is a naval varaint of the Prithvi-II.
File photo of the Prithvi-II. The nuclear-capable Dhanush missile is a naval varaint of the Prithvi-II.(AFP File Photo)

The US spied on India’s nuclear-capable missile projects years before they were tested, and obtained “significant intelligence” about the country’s bombs, according to a report in The Intercept.

Newly released documents from leaked information obtained by Edward Snowden show the US’ National Security Agency knew about Sagarika and Dhanush missiles in 2005, the report said.

“A series of nuclear weapons tests conducted by India in the spring of 1998 took the (US) intelligence community by surprise, prompting an internal investigation into why these tests had not been foreseen... A similar lapse in data gathering would not happen again in 2005,” it added.

“An Australian NSA site, RAINFALL, isolated a signal it suspected was associated with an Indian nuclear facility, according to SIDtoday (an internal newsletter for the NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate). Collaboration between RAINFALL and two NSA stations in Thailand (INDRA and LEMONWOOD) confirmed the source of the signals and allowed for the interception of information about several new Indian missile initiatives.”

The Sagarika missile programme was a closely guarded secret until 2008, when India test-fired its first submarine launched ballistic missile called K-15 -- a part of the programme.

S Prahlada, the chief controller in the Defence Research and Development Organisation said the K-15 had a range of 700km.

In 2013, India successfully tested its nuclear-capable ballistic missile Dhanush from a naval ship in the Bay of Bengal.

Dhanush is a naval version of the nuclear-capable ballistic missile Prithvi. It has a range of 350 km and is capable of carrying a conventional as well as nuclear payload of more than 500 kg. It can hit both land and sea-based targets.

The new revelations have come from a batch of 294 articles published by The Intercept on September 14.