March 07, 1972
US Embassy Canada cable 391 to State Department, 'India’s Nuclear Intentions'
U.S. embassy officials report on an interview with Lauren Gray, the chairman of Canada’s Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB), who had recently visited India. Having spoken with Homi Nusserwanji Sethna, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and other officials, Gray believed that Sethna opposed a test and that as long as Sethna and Indira Gandhi were in office “there was no chance” that India would test a nuclear device, which would take three to four years to prepare. Other officials with the AECB disagreed with Gray's estimates - based on their assessment of Indian’s ability to produce weapons grade plutonium, they argued that it would take no more than a year to produce a device. They also pointed out that about 18 months earlier there had been a “blackout” of statistical information on plutonium production in India.
September 21, 1972
Memorandum of Conversation, 'Indian Nuclear Developments'
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.
Intelligence Community Staff, Post Mortem Report, 'An Examination of the Intelligence Community's Performance Before the Indian Nuclear Test of May 1974'
This partial release of the July 1974 post-mortem investigation analyzes why the CIA and its sister agencies failed to predict the 1974 Indian nuclear test. Two problems were especially important: 1) the lack of priority given to the Indian nuclear program for intelligence collection (further confirmed by the January 1972 INR report), and 2) the lack of communication between intelligence producers (analysts and estimators) and intelligence collectors (spies, NRO, etc.). The low priority meant that intelligence production “fell off” during the 20 months before the test (from October 1972 to May 1974). Moreover, there may have been a lack of communication between producers, with the “other guy” assuming that someone else was “primarily responsible for producing hard evidence of Indian intentions.” Trying to explain the lack of follow-up on relevant “raw intelligence,” e.g. Pinjanians’s surmises about the Indian nuclear program, the post-mortem saw no “sense of urgency” in the intelligence community, which may have “reflected the attitudes of the policymakers.” Another problem was that the intelligence community focused more on “capabilities” than on “intentions,” which implicitly raised the difficult issue of breaching the nuclear establishment or Indira Gandhi’s small circle of decision-making. The substantive discussion of satellite photography has been excised, but the recommendations were left intact, including the point that “The failure of production elements to ask NPIC [National Photographic Intelligence Center] to exploit photography that had been specifically requested from the National Reconnaissance Office suggests a weakness in the imagery requirements system.” The implication was that NRO satellites had imagery of the Thar Desert that could have been scrutinized for suspect activity, but no one asked NPIC to look into it.
July 06, 1976
Report, Embassy of Hungary in India to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry
A lengthy report on the results of India Gandhi's visit to the Soviet Union drawn from news sources and conversations with Indian officials. The response is described as highly positive with an expectation of closer political and economic cooperation between the two countries in the future.
March 21, 1979
Telegram No. 66, Embassy of Hungary in India to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry on Soviet Premier Kosygin's visit to India
A summary of the results of Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin's visit to India. Discussions touched upon Soviet-Indian economic relations and a request by the Indians for Soviet arms.