US put ‘low priority’ on first India N-test


US intelligence agencies put a low priority on predicting India’s first nuclear test as it concluded that the step would have minimal strategic impact, declassified documents said Monday. US papers retrieved by George Washington University’s National Security Archive found other Western countries also doubted India would carry out a nuclear test but that a Japanese diplomat accurately forecast the 1974 test.
A secret US intelligence memo, produced in 1972 when Richard Nixon was president, said India was clearly capable of producing nuclear weapons and admitted that preparations may “not come to our attention.” “A relatively modest priority has been attached to relevant intelligence collection activities,” the memo said, adding that the immediate strategic significance of an Indian test would be “negligible.”
“By entering the nuclear club, India would gain the satisfaction of demonstrating its scientific and technical progress. However, India is years away from developing a credible nuclear deterrent against the only prospective enemy with a nuclear capability — China,” it said.
Nixon had troubled relations with India, which tilted increasingly toward the Soviet Union as the United States reconciled with China and sided with Pakistan in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War that led to Bangladesh’s independence.