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Digital Archive International History Declassified


  • June 26, 1972

    US Mission Geneva Cable 2755 to State Department, 'Japanese-Pakistani Conversations Regarding Indian Nuclear Plans'

    Report on conversations between Japanese officials and a Pakistani source who indicated the location of the upcoming Indian nuclear test. The cable expressed doubts about the information, suggesting that the "stir" "may have been created largely on personal basis" by the Pakistani source.

  • June 27, 1972

    US Embassy Tokyo Cable 67912 to State Department, 'Japanese View Regarding Indian Nuclear Plans'

    Cable on a discussion with Japanese Disarmament Division Chief Tanaka, who was uncertain whether India would conduct the nuclear test or not.

  • July 04, 1972

    Henry Kissinger to President Nixon, 'Proposed NSSM on the Implications of an Indian Nuclear Test,' with cover memorandum from Richard T. Kennedy

    National security assistant Henry Kissinger asks President Nixon to approve a proposal for a national security study memorandum [NSSM] on the implications of an Indian nuclear test for U.S. interests.

  • July 26, 1972

    US Embassy India Cable 9293 to State Department, 'Indian Nuclear Intentions'

    The Embassy acknowledged that India had the “technical know-how and possibly materials to develop [a] simple nuclear device within period of months after GOI decision to do so.” Nevertheless, it saw no evidence that a decision had been made to test a device. Moreover, capabilities to deliver nuclear weapons were limited, with no plans in sight to “develop [a] missile launch system.”

  • August 03, 1972

    Special National Intelligence Estimate SNIE 31-72, 'Indian Nuclear Developments and their Likely Implications'

    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.

  • August 11, 1972

    Rahya Sabha Q&A on Non-First-Use Policy

    Transcript of questions and answers between members of the Rajya Sabha and the Minister of External Affairs, Shri Surendra Pal Singh, on a report that India opposes the non-first-use policy.

  • August 18, 1972

    Rajya Sabha Q&A on American Reports of the Indian Nuclear Program

    Transcript of questions and answers between members of the Rajya Sabha and the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of External Affairs, Shri Surenda Pal Singh, on accusations in the American media that the Indian nuclear program does not comply with IAEA regulations.

  • August 25, 1972

    Rajya Sabha Q&A on the French Nuclear Tests

    Transcript of questions and answers between members of the Rajya Sabha and the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of External Affairs, Shri Surendra Pal Singh, on the government's reaction to the recent nuclear test conducted by France in the Pacific.

  • 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.

  • December 07, 1972

    Rajya Sabha Q&A on the Study of Underground Nuclear Tests

    Transcript of questions and answers between members of the Rajya Sabha and Prime Minister, Shrimati Indira Gandhi, on the study of underground nuclear tests and their advancement of peaceful nuclear uses.

  • January 16, 1973

    H. Daniel Brewster to Herman Pollack, 'Indian Nuclear Developments'

    The interagency group prepared a response to NSSM 156 on 1 September 1972 and it was sent to Kissinger. The summary of the study reproduced here includes the conclusion that an Indian test would be “a set-back to nonproliferation efforts” and that Washington should “do what [it] can to avert or delay” one. Thus, recommendations included a number of unilateral and multilateral actions that the United States government could take, noting that “given the poor state” of Indo-American relations, an “overly visible” U.S. effort would more likely speed up an Indian decision to test a device, Even non-US efforts were likely not to “be per se effective.”

  • April 04, 1973

    Bombay consulate cable 705 to Department of State, 'India’s Nuclear Position'

    The possibility that India had made a decision to test surfaced in a message from the U.S. consulate in Bombay (Mumbai) signed off by Consul David M. Bane. The latter reported that Oak Ridge Laboratory scientist John J. Pinajian, then serving as the Atomic Energy Commission’s scientific representative in India, had pointed out several “indications”—-notably his lack of access to key individuals and facilities in India’s atomic establishment--suggesting that India “may well have decided” to test a nuclear device. While stating that Pinajian’s evaluation was “subjective and impressionistic,” Consul Bane agreed that the atomic energy establishment did not want this American poking around because he might find out too much. Bane further observed that a nuclear test “in the not too distant future” could meet India’s political goals and help attain “greater recognition major power status.”

  • May 17, 1973

    US Embassy India Cable 5797 to State Department forwarding Bombay consulate cable 983, 'India’s Nuclear Position'

    A follow up to John J. Pinajian's 4 April 1973 report on "India's Nuclear Position." Pinajian got some access to the Bhabha Atomic Research Center, but noticed the absence of personnel responsible for experimental work. Moreover, he was getting cooperation from the Institute for Fundamental Research to conduct an experiment.

  • August 02, 1973

    Rajya Sabha Q&A on Underground Nuclear Tests

    Transcript of questions and answers between members of the Rajya Sabha and members of the Ministry of Atomic Energy on the feasibility and effects of an underground nuclear tests.

  • August 03, 1973

    Rajya Sabha Q&A on Recent Chinese Nuclear Attacks and the Indian Government's Position

    Transcript of questions and answers between members of the Rajya Sabha and the Minister of Defence Shri Jagjivan Ram on the Indian government's stance and actions to be taken in response to CHinese nuclear tests.

  • November 23, 1973

    Telegram from G.L. Malik, Indian Ambassador to Chile

    Unable to send refugees to other friendly embassies, Ambassador Malik asks permission to grant asylum to refugees at the Indian embassy.

  • November 26, 1973

    Rajya Sabha Q&A on Nuclear Missile Delivery System Developement

    Transcript of Questions and answers between members of the Rajya Sabha and the Minister of Defence Shri Jagjivan Ram on China's development of rockets capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

  • January 19, 1974

    US Embassy India cable 0743 to State Department, 'India’s Nuclear Intentions'

    The Embassy assessed India's potential for the development of nuclear weapons amd concluded that “deeper economic problems,” among other considerations militated against a nuclear test in the near future, even though the Indian government had the capabilities to produce and test a device. While there were no rumors about a test as there had been in 1972, “we know little about relevant internal government debate.” All in all, the embassy believed that economic conditions “tip the likelihood of an early test to a lower level than previous years.” Russell Jack Smith, previously the deputy director for intelligence at the CIA, and then serving as special assistant to the ambassador (station chief), was one of the officials who signed off on this cable.

  • May 18, 1974

    US Embassy India Cable 6598 to State Department, 'India’s Nuclear Explosion: Why Now?'

    Having written off an early test, the day that it took place the Embassy scrambled to come up with an explanation. Deputy Chief of Mission David Schneider signed off on the telegram because Moynihan was in London. While the Embassy had no insight on the decision-making, it saw domestic politics and “psychological” explanations for the test: the need to offset domestic “gloom” and the need for India to “be taken seriously.” According to the telegram, “the decision will appeal to nationalist feeling and will be widely welcomed by the Indian populace.”

  • May 18, 1974

    State Department cable 104613 to Consulate, Jerusalem, 'India Nuclear Explosion'

    The day of the test, State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) rushed to update Kissinger. INR provided background on what had happened, how the United States and Canada had inadvertently helped India produce plutonium for the test device, earlier U.S. and Canadian demarches against “peaceful nuclear explosions,” and India’s capabilities to produce and deliver nuclear weapons. The report did not state whether India had made a decision to produce weapons, but it forecast that two large unsafeguarded reactors under construction could eventually “produce enough plutonium for 50-70 nuclear weapons.”