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January 29, 1990

National Intelligence Daily for Monday, 29 January 1990

The CIA’s National Intelligence Daily for Monday, 29 January 1990 describes the latest developments in USSR, Azerbaijan, Romania, India, Ethiopia and Namibia.

May 21, 1974

Report from the Brazilian Foreign Ministry to President Ernesto Geisel, 'Subject: The Indian nuclear test'

This is a note from the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Antonio Azeredo da Silveira, to Brazilian President Ernesto Geisel, regarding India’s nuclear test in 1974. It indicates the main consequences of the Indian test to both the world and Brazil, and suggests that Argentina has the necessary incentives to follow India’s path.

May 27, 1974

Confidential Note from Pierre Laurent to the French Foreign Minister

Pierre Laurent of the French Department of Scientific Affairs describes the first Indian nuclear test and the resulting reevaluation of French nuclear cooperation with India. New guarantees are suggested to ensure that French-supplied nuclear technology and materials could not be used in future Indian nuclear explosions.

May 23, 1974

Telegram from French Ambassador Jean-Daniel Jurgensen to the French Foreign Ministry in Paris

Jean-Daniel Jurgensen, the French ambassador to India, describes the Indian response to the negative international reaction to India's first nuclear test in 1974. He reports that the “Indians are particularly pleased because France has abstained from all unfriendly judgments and they believe that France is herself well-placed to understand the Indian position in this domain.”

May 28, 1974

Le Monde, 'Our Neighbors and Other Countries have Nothing to Fear from India, Declares Madam Gandhi'

Report on Indira Gandhi's response to the negative international reaction to the first Indian nuclear test. In contrast to other countries, André Giraud, the head of the French Commision for Atomic Energy, sent a congratulatory telegram following the successful test.

May 23, 1974

National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 202 on Nuclear Proliferation

Following India’s nuclear weapon test, the US must reassess its nuclear non-proliferation policy and how best to deal with India in the future. The author of the memo determines that nuclear non-proliferation is still necessary and can be “effectively pursued.” The memo is followed by a series of documents outlining courses of action to help deter further proliferation.

October 12, 1976

Intelligence Community Staff, Director of Performance Evaluation and Improvement, to Deputy to the Director of Central Intelligence for the Intelligence Community, 'Nuclear Proliferation and the Intelligence Community'

As this report indicates, the recommendations made in the 1974 post-mortem of the Indian nuclear test failure had little impact. The authors identified a basic disconnect between “national level users”—-the top policymakers-—and those who “set analytical and collection priorities in the intelligence community.” The latter were not sure how high a priority that the policymakers had given to nuclear proliferation intelligence. Moreover, a study for the Defense Department produced by MIT chemistry professor (and future DCI) John Deutch questioned whether the intelligence community “is adequately focused and tasked on proliferation matters.” This would be a recurring problem for the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

August 23, 1974

Special National Intelligence Estimate SNIE 4-1-74, 'Prospects for Further Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons'

A few months after the Indian test, the intelligence community prepared an overall estimate of the global nuclear proliferation situation. Such an estimate had not been prepared since the 1960s, no doubt because of the White House’s lack of interest. This estimate, SNIE 4-1-74, has been released before but this version includes more information, mainly a section on the Indian nuclear program, which had previously been withheld. While finding it “likely” that India would launch a covert program to produce a few weapons, the analysts were not sure that such a decision had been made and suggested that Moscow or Washington might be able to persuade the Indians from moving in that direction.

July 1974

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.

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.”