January 14, 1972
State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research Intelligence Note, 'India to Go Nuclear?'
The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) evaluates the available intelligence on India’s nuclear intentions. There were varying reports that India would test a device that month, sometime in 1972, or that the government was undertaking a program to test a “peaceful nuclear explosive.” According to INR, India had the capability to produce some 20-30 weapons, and it could easily test a device in an underground site, such as an abandoned mine, that would be hard to discover. Because the U.S. government had given a “relatively modest priority to... relevant intelligence collection activities” a “concerted effort by India to conceal such preparations... may well succeed.” What would motivate India to test, the analysts opined, were domestic political pressures and concerns about China and Pakistan.
January 21, 1972
US Embassy Airgram A-20 to State Department, 'India’s Nuclear Intentions'
In response to the State Department's request, the U.S. Embassy in India identified a number of reasons that made it unlikely that India would a test a nuclear device in the coming weeks, but saw “straws” suggesting an underground test “sometime in future.” For example, the Government of India had publicly acknowledged ongoing work on the problem of safe underground testing. Moreover, India might have an interest in making its nuclear capabilities known to “enemies.” Whatever the Indians decided, external pressure would have no impact on a highly nationalist state and society: “we see nothing US or international community can presently do to influence GOI policy directions in atomic field.”