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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 21, 1972

MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION, 'INDIAN NUCLEAR DEVELOPMENTS'

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)

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    A meeting between British Foreign Office and State Department officials on the Indian nuclear problem occurred the same month that Indian Prime Minister Gandhi approved the “final preparations for a PNE.” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Christopher T. Van Hollen (the father of the future Maryland Congressman) and his colleagues followed the approach taken by the Special National Intelligence Estimate, which was close to that taken by the British Joint Intelligence Committee. According to country director David Schneider, the “odds were about even” that India would make a decision, but once it was made, India could test very quickly. There was “no firm intelligence” that a “go-ahead signal” to prepare for a test had been made. Schneider reviewed bilateral and multilateral steps, proposed in the NSSM 156 study, that the U.S. and others could take to try to discourage an Indian test and the range of reactions that would be available if India went ahead. A “weak” U.S. reaction, Schneider observed, would suggest that Washington would “acquiesce” if other countries followed India’s example.
    "Memorandum of Conversation, 'Indian Nuclear Developments'," September 21, 1972, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, National Archives, Record Group 59, SN 70-73, Def 12 India. Obtained and contributed by William Burr and included in NPIHP Research Update #4. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113906
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