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Digital Archive International History Declassified

February 23, 1972

MEMORANDUM FROM RAY CLINE, DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF INTELLIGENCE AND RESEARCH, TO DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE RICHARD HELMS, ENCLOSING 'POSSIBILITY OF AN INDIAN NUCLEAR TEST'

This document was made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation

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    At the request of Undersecretary of State John Irwin, the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) prepared an assessment which included a detailed review of Indian’s nuclear facilities and their capacity to produce weapons-grade plutonium as well as capabilities to deliver nuclear weapons to a target. While India had signed agreements with Canada and the United States that nuclear reactors were to be used for peaceful purposes, the Indians were likely to claim that an explosive device for “peaceful” purposes was consistent with the agreements. Whether the Indians were going to test in the near future was in doubt. INR could not “rule out” one in the near future. Further, the “strongest incentive [to test] may well be the desire for the increased status of a nuclear power.” All the same, “it our judgment that a decision to authorize a test is unlikely in the next few months and may well be deferred for several years.” Weighing against a test were the financial and diplomatic costs, for example, “India's full awareness that assistance from the US and other countries (possibly including the USSR) would be jeopardized.”
    "Memorandum from Ray Cline, Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, to Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, enclosing 'Possibility of an Indian Nuclear Test'," February 23, 1972, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, U.S. State Department, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976 Volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 228. Obtained and contributed by William Burr and included in NPIHP Research Update #4. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113893
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