CIA Document Reveals Indira Gandhi Intentions to Bomb Pak Nukes (w/link to the document)

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Washington, DC – Following a recent bitter exchange of words and failure of security talks between India and Pakistan to take off, comes a declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) document claiming that after returning to power in 1980, the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had considered military action on Pakistan’s nuclear installations to prevent it from acquiring weapons capabilities.

According to a redacted version of the 12-page CIA document titled, “India’s Reaction to Nuclear Developments in Pakistan,” the decision was being made by then Indian Prime Minister as the US was in an advanced stage of providing its fighter jets F-16 to Pakistan.

“In the extreme case, if Indian concerns increase over the next two or three months, we believe the conditions could be ripe for a decision by Prime Minister Gandhi to instigate a military confrontation with Pakistan, primarily to provide a framework for destroying Pakistan’s nuclear facilities,” said the document dated September 8, 1981.

According to the report, as Pakistan was in an advanced stage of producing plutonium and highly enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons, Gandhi evidently responded to the threat by authorizing Indian nuclear test preparations.

“In February (1981), excavation was begun in the Thar desert to permit the underground explosion of an Indian test device on short notice,” the CIA said, adding that in May, preparations had been completed by India for a 40-kiloton nuclear test.

The CIA said India reportedly was to explode the device about one week after the expected Pakistani test.

“Evidently, the Indian Government calculated that a Pakistani nuclear explosion per se would not constitute a national security threat, and that the damage to India’s image of pre-eminence in the region could be minimized by a resumption of the peaceful nuclear explosive (PNE) program,” the CIA said.

Highlighting the Indian concern about US defense supplies to Pakistan, the report noted, “Prime Minister Gandhi probably has not made a decision to exercise a military option against Pakistan. In the extreme case, if India’s concern about deliveries of F-16s to Pakistan increases before the optimum time for exercising the military option (in October or November according to one report), the conditions could be ripe for Prime Minister Gandhi to carry out the contingency strike plan.”

“Our best estimate, however, is that India will follow a wait and see strategy,” the report concluded.

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