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October 31, 1986

Information On the Question of Renting Soviet Atomic Submarines to India

This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)


On the question of renting Soviet atomic submarines to India


I. A decision was made in the CPSU Central Committee Resolution from October 31, 1986 (P39/35) to affirm our position on the transfer of a Project “S” atomic submarine to the Indian side for scientific purposes. (Informational: the atomic submarine Project 670 was constructed in 1967, water displacement: 3,600 tons, underwater speed: 44-46 km per hour, range: 24,000 km, crew: 81 people, armed with torpedo weapons and 8 “Amethyst” anti-ship cruise missile installations from 1968 with a range of 70 km, speed of 1100-1300 km per hour, ceiling of 60 m, self-guiding, with high-explosive warheads of 500 kg or special payload with a yield of ~ 10 kilotons). This step will testify to the consistency of the Soviet Leadership’s leadership and its interest in strengthening the influence of India in its region. The presence of an atomic submarine in the Indian Navy at any level also raises the personal prestige of R. Gandhi.


II. Moreover, the presence of a Soviet submarine in the Indian Navy known as the type “Charlie I” with SS-N-7 cruise missiles carrying nuclear or ordinary warheads could lead to serious negative political consequences, of which the following are possible:


1. Denunciation of the USSR and violation of the Nuclear Weapon Nonproliferation Treaty (with the “Amethyst” missile). In doing so our thesis could be used: if the submarine is armed with cruise [ page is torn here] then all submarines of this type may be considered armed with such [page is torn]. As always in such cases, attention will be [page is torn here] technical capacity of the submarine to carry SS-N-[page is torn here] of the submarine, but not our intention not to arm it [page is torn] if we declare it.


2. Qualitatively the new presence in nuclear politics began by use in the Indian ocean could lead to a response from Pakistan and the USA, for example, the transfer of American APL Tomahawk cruise missiles to Pakistan, but even the military variant.


3. The Soviet Union and its leadership could be accused of political inconsistency in a personal plane when they come out for the renewal of talks on the transformation of the Indian Ocean into a zone of peace, and then assist its militarization on a substantial new level. This could complicate the planned talks with countries from the Indian region on measures to trust and limit the activity of their Navies in the Indian Ocean.


4. In all likelihood it is possible to assume that in the process of operating the atomic submarine a number of technical data on the systems of the submarine, as well as partially on the basic external parameters for all our atomic submarines will go to the Americans. They are extremely interested in this since the atomic power in our submarines is of a better nature.


5. Limited access to information on the transfer of the Soviet atomic submarine to India will still not make it possible to hide the fact of the transfer for very long, however it will lead to the presence of hostile schemes for this reason. The details known to a small circle of specialists that the submarine is scientific, and has no missiles will not in this case cause a reduction of political damage of our country from the transfer of the submarine.


III. Based on the understanding that the agreement on the transfer of the atomic submarine to India is accomplished and the documentary paperwork is being completed, and the period of readiness of the submarine for transfer is established: the second quarter of 1987, would be considered possible:


1. The far-reaching consequences of such a step will be discussed at a high-level meeting with the Indian side, and to again evaluate its expedience in light of our peaceful initiatives.


2. If the expedience is still affirmed, an agreement will be made on the legalization and softening of the consequences of this step: publication in print of the plans of use of the atomic submarine only for scientific purposes, without the transfer of military missile weapons and without the transfer of full ownership of the submarine to the Indian side. Other measures in this plan will also be considered.


This document considers the political consequences of carrying through with the Soviet Union's promise to provide India with an Atomic submarine for scientific purposes.

Document Information


Vitalii Leonidovich Kataev Papers, Box 13-14, Hoover Institution Archives


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