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Digital Archive International History Declassified

August 03, 1972

SPECIAL NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE SNIE 31-72, 'INDIAN NUCLEAR DEVELOPMENTS AND THEIR LIKELY IMPLICATIONS'

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    Prepared as part of the NSSM 156 policy review, this Special National Intelligence Estimate (SNIE) concluded that the chances of India making a decision to test were “roughly even,” but the post-mortem analysis [see "Why now?," 18 May 1974] argued that based on its own findings, the conclusion ought to have been 60-40 in favor of a decision to test. In its analysis of the pros and cons of testing, the SNIE found that the “strongest factors impelling India to set off a test are: the belief that it would build up [its] international prestige; demonstrate India's importance as an Asian power; overawe its immediate South Asian neighbors; and bring enhanced popularity and public support to the regime which achieved it.” The drafters further noted that a test would be “extremely popular at home, where national pride is riding high” and that supporters of a test believed that it would make the world see India as “one of the world’s principal powers.” The arguments against a test included adverse reactions from foreign governments that provided economic assistance, but the estimate noted that foreign reactions were “becoming less important” to India.
    "Special National Intelligence Estimate SNIE 31-72, 'Indian Nuclear Developments and their Likely Implications'," August 03, 1972, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976 Volume E–7, Documents on South Asia, 1969–1972, Document 298. Obtained and contributed by William Burr and included in NPIHP Research Update #4. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113905
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