by Shelley Kasli
Documents from 1974-1975 and 1998 provide assessments of the reason why the U.S. Intelligence Community failed to provide warning of the 1974 and 1998 tests – assessments which are strikingly similar. They also include recommendations to address the deficiencies in performance that the assessments identified.
Locations of CIA/NSA Special Collection Service (SCS) eavesdropping sites in 2004
In October 2004, one signals intelligence program, “RAINFALL,” “successfully geolocated signals of a suspected Indian nuclear weapons storage facility.” In response, several other parts of the NSA collaborated to confirm that the signals were related to Indian nuclear weapons, and to begin a new collection effort that revealed “spectacular” amounts of intelligence on India’s nuclear weapons capabilities.
Below is the Top Secret SIDtoday report New Collection Access Yields ‘Spectacular’ Intel.
S3 branch and a field facility achieve breakthrough on Indian net (TS//SI)
One recent SIGINT success against India’s Nuclear Weapons Development Program exemplifies the Agency’s new environment of cross-program collaboration in satisfying intelligence needs. This is a great example of SIGINT programs working together to achieve a common goal. In October 2004, RAINFALL successfully geolocated signals of a suspected Indian nuclear weapons storage facility. This prompted a Foreign Satellite (FORNSAT) collection facility, LEMONWOOD, and the Unidentified Signal and Protocol Analysis Branch (S31124) at NSA to collaborate in isolating these signals and, through signals development, confirm their content as related to Indian nuclear weapons. This breakthrough highlighted the need to deploy additional demodulating equipment to LEMONWOOD in order to expand a modest collection effort undertaken since the signal was discovered in October.
Immediately after fielding this equipment, collection of this new network began to provide what is being called “spectacular” activity. Exploitation of that collection revealed India’s first-ever SAGARIKA Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) launch; DHANUSH sea-launched Short Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM); and pilotless target aircraft.
Collection from this new access has also provided significant intelligence on India’s possession of two different types of airdropped bombs, one believed to be a very large Fuel Air Explosive (FAE) bomb of an unidentified type. The other, not yet confirmed by the analytic community, may be a new generation of airdropped nuclear weapons.
LEMONWOOD has sustained access to satellite communication links : (information blacked out). The FORNSAT Division is working with the siteand the Trans-Asia Product Line (S2A4) to expand collection against this high-priority network.
While the collection that resulted from interagency collaboration has been categorized as spectacular, what is most impressive is the growing trend of collaboration seen across the entire Agency. What were once technological challenges are now collaboration opportunities that offer the promise of a seamless, interoperable and responsive National Security Agency.
As can be seen from the classified intelligence documents itself that the US Intelligence community was highly concerned about its failure to detect India’s Nuclear tests in advance. The Community after identifying and assessing the deficiencies in performance that led to this failure made recommendations to determine what steps should be taken to reduce the chances of a similar failure in the future.
What were those steps taken by the US Intelligence community to track India’s Nuclear program? The above case is just one such example. Are the ongoing killings of India’s scientists around the country since decades a continuation of such policies? Was the crash of Air India Flight 101 near Mont Blanc in which Homi Bhabha was also travelling a direct result of such steps? Is the Indian Intelligence community aware about those steps? If so, have they prepared a strategy and taken appropriate steps to counter such spying activities and covert operations targeting India’s Nuclear program? If not, a good place to start would be to open a fresh investigation into the assassination of the father of our Nuclear program – Homi Bhabha.
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