By Christina Palmer
(With additional input Jessica Zhang in Washington & Aaeedah Abbaas in Baghdad)
NEW DELHI – If New Delhi made a very narrow escape in 2004 when the George Bush Administration, just at the eleventh hour opted not place India under sanction over nuclear and proliferation activities than in 2015, India has managed to make the Great Escape over the same issue, though it had to sacrifice its top missile scientist, the architect of country’s Agni Missile program, the Agni Man of India, Avinash Chander, the Director General of Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), reveal the investigations of The Daily Mail. These investigations also indicate that Chander’s sudden removal from DRDO has come as an international package as soon, after this move by Delhi, Tehran has also abruptly shut down its missile and space program, raising many questions about the DRDO-Tehran links.
Very well-placed and high credible sources at the PMO and DRDO, on prerequisite of not to be quoted, told The Daily Mail that after the episode of exposure of India’s Prasad-Chaudhary Network of nuclear and missile proliferation during the last decade, relevant American authorities and watchdogs were maintaining special focus on state of affairs in India. These sources say that in this process, after developing some serious hunches, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) listed three Indian companies as having dubious commercial activity in Iran’s energy sector earlier this month, potentially making it difficult for them to do business with other countries, mainly the United States.
These sources say that Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC.NS), Oil India Ltd (OILI.NS) and Indian Oil Corp (IOC.NS), which were being monitored closely by the Americans for quite some time and were on the list since 2010, cited interests in Iran’s Farsi concession in their 2013-14 annual reports but blatantly lied by telling the GAO that they had ceased activity in 2007.
“This (mention in the list) could hit Indian companies’ plans to invest in other countries, particularly in America while the Americans have very serious reasons to believe that these companies were playing a key role in DRDO’s illegal transportation of certain materials, used in manufacturing and running of missile and rocket systems ,” said one of the sources.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that in a simultaneous move, that confirms Indo-Iran missile tech and nuclear proliferation network, soon after the Americans smelled the magnitude of these proliferation activities between Delhi’s DRDO and Tehran, Iran, immediately after the arrival of John Kerry and his team to India and his taking up the issue with Delhi, followed India’s drive of immediately sacking of DRDO Chief. In the matching move, Tehran also announced an abrupt end to its missile and Space program that was actually relying on constant support of DRDO for about past six years or so.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that Tehran, earlier this month, abruptly decided shut down its space program which also country’s ambitious missile program’s advanced stage. The unceremonious cancellation occurred without notice in the Iranian press.
Iranian authorities were reported by the international media, a few days back, of spreading its space agency’s manpower and assets across four Ministries including the Telecoms Ministry and the ministry of defense, soon after the Avinash Chander made an abrupt exit from DRDO.
These investigations indicate that the Iranian Space Agency, in its current form, was formed on Sept. 27, 2010, when then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brought the national space consul and several small research institutes under the direct supervision of Presidential office. This move would see placing of Avinash Chander to the spotlight and at the helm of affairs and that too in a rather mysterious manner. The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that in May 2013, the then government gave Chander a three-year posting as DRDO with the condition that after he retires, he will automatically be on contract with same powers which means that had the Americans not been smelling the rat at the right moment, Avinsh Chander could have freely continue with his proliferation project till 2019 and not merely till May 2016, as being projected by media. The Americans are believed to be having reasonably stronger grounds to believe that DRDO was using Indian Oil Companies for transportation of solid fuel propellant rocket motors etc to Iran under the oil shipments’ cover.
One the other hand, according to the sources, Americans found that the Prasad-Chaudhary Network of Nuclear and Missile Tech Proliferation was still very active despite US sanction of the proven guilty Indian nuclear Scientists C Surender Chaudhary and Dr YSR Prasad, some ten years back. Chairmen of NPCIL, YSR Prasad and Chaudary Surinder were put under sanctions under Nonproliferation Act 2000 through Public Notice No-4845, notified in the Federal Register as 69FR 58212 NOTICE on September 29, 2004 by the US State Department to bring an end to this nuclear proliferation network. However The US authorities have now found that the Prasad-Chaudhary Network was now being actively run by DRDO Chief Avinash Chander with the clear knowledge of Delhi. These sources further say that the American team that visited India earlier this month under John Kerry, came up some very solid evidences of Indian being in acute violation of certain nuclear safeguard bounding and missile tech proliferation. Sources say that the American team had very solid reasons to believe that India’s DRDO, under the supervision of its Chief Avinash Chander was engaged in highly sensitive violations of international laws and was helping a few countries with their illegal nuclear, missile and space programs. These sources say that Modi government officials were told by the Americans that DRDO Chief was running an improvised nuclear and missile tech proliferation network with an approved budget by the Indian government, amounting around 1,500 billion of Indian Rupees under the cover of a project to create a pool of more than 10,000 young scientists working on cutting-edge military technologies by 2020 and admitted of scoping out more than Rs 1,500 billion from the DRDO’s budget of Rs 15,282 billion. The sources say that Americans had sufficient reasons to suspect that this project was actually the project of running a highly organized network of nuclear and missile proliferation, worldwide, with Iran being the immediate and regular beneficiary. “The Americans were also of the firm view that the certain oil companies of government of India were also, to a very reasonable extent, involved in this proliferation exercise and Delhi was asked to take some immediate and solid steps to bring and abrupt end to this state of affairs and that too before the arrival of US President to India to attend the Republic Day function as Chief guest at New Delhi on the 26th of this month. Upon this Premier Narendra Modi called an emergency meeting of his close aides including NSA Ajit Kumar Doval and it was Doval who suggested that to show some progress to Americans, DRDO Chief must be removed and that he should be removed through a Cabinet Decision and not through an administrative act because an administrative decision to terminate DRDO Chief’s service contract without citing “Actual Reason” could have enabled Chander to move court over the issue. So first, Chander was removed and later, just a couple of days back, the government has asked country’s oil refineries to bring Iran oils trade to the minimum possible level,” the sources asserted. India had raised its crude shipments from Iran by more than 40 percent over the first nine months of country’s current fiscal year, when as part of the temporary deal that eased some sanctions on Tehran it was meant to hold them steady.
Now, the sources said, India’s Oil Ministry has told Essar Oil, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd and Indian Oil Corp – the Indian refiners that buy from Iran, to cut those imports to the lowest possible
“This is very much about US pressure as they believe that the Indian oil companies, despite violating the US oil sanction on Iran, were also the prime source of the proliferation between the two countries under the cover of oil transportation activities. . India does not want Obama’s visit to be overshadowed by this dispute. India’s alarming oil business with Iran, Delhi has been told, is very much there on the agenda of Obama’s talks with Modi and thus the refiners have been directed by the government to halt Iranian oil imports in January-March to retain purchases at last year’s levels,” sources revealed further.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that despite the fact that US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is deemed by Indians to be a very pro-India US Defense Secretary, Carter is actually very much disappointed and annoyed with Indian’s refusal to sign the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), two agreements that US law deems necessary for certain aspects of technology transfer. While India’s utter violation of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is also a permanent source of deep concern for Carter and the Pentagon. These investigations further indicate that The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1540, the 2005 India-United States (US) Civil Nuclear Initiative, which resulted in the 2008 as India-specific waiver in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines and the 2010 India-US joint statement, gave India a haul of opportunities to re-define it’s relationship with the global export controls system. Of these, the November 2010 joint statement issued during President Obama’s India visit heralded India’s new rendezvous with the key element of the global export controls system. The Statement endorsed India’s candidature for the four multilateral export controls regimes, the NSG, the Missile Technology Control. However, till today, India is found to be completely to the contrary and is defiant to all these regimes, laws and protocols.
However, hen Indian defense Minister was asked to comment on the rather mysterious exit of Avinesh Chander from DRD, he had not much to divulge. “I think this is a call point which I need to have taken and I took the call point. Nothing beyond that,” says Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar adding that he was not raising a question mark on Chander’s capability.
“I am not ready to do that because I had too small a tenure with him. I thought that at 64, a person probably thinks in more of a cautious way,” the Minister said here in New Delhi in a media interaction.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that the nuclear and missile tech proliferation activities of Indians with Iranians, Iraqis and Libyans in the past are not a secret.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that India’s nuclear and missile tech co-op or networking with Iran has a long history. These investigations indicate that in 1994 police in the West Khasi Hills District of Indian state of Meghalaya nearby Uranium mining site, accidently arrested four persons trying to smuggle large quantity of Uranium. Police sources claimed that that a former employee of Indian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) then working in the Persian Gulf (Iran) was linked with the deal. However, the case was hushed up so as not to expose the linkup of Indian nuclear establishment with nuclear underworld via Dubai serving aspirant countries having covert nuclear program for heavy sums of money.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that leading Indian nuclear scientist and former Chairman and Managing Director of Nuclear Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) Dr. YSR Prasad was employed by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) after his retirement in 2000. The revelation came as a part of Iran’s efforts to fulfill its promise to the IAEA to make complete declaration of its past and present activities in a bid to clear its name from allegations of developing nuclear weapons. However, India managed to partially blackout the news with an amazing speed. The news item was got removed from the website of Hindustan Times within hours of its posting by special instructions of Indian Ministry of Media and Information. India sent special emissary to Tehran pursuing it not to make any further disclosures about the extent of involvement of other officials of Atomic Energy Commission (AEG), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of India and NPCIL in the Iranian nuclear program.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that Iran’s nuclear program received a major boost with joining of Prasad. Owing to his resourceful network within the Indian and Russian nuclear circles pieces of nuclear puzzle started to fall in place at an amazing pace.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that Indians’ Nuclear cooperation or proliferation with Iraqis has also got an amazing history. These “collaborations” started in 1974 under the direct supervision of Saddam Hussain himself on the Iraqi side when he was still the Vice President. Saddam flew to India especially to sign a Nuclear Cooperation Treaty with the then Indian Prime Minster Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The little known Treaty involved the exchange of scientists, training and technology. To cover up the secret Treaty, India and Iraq signed an overt “Agreement between the Government of India and the Government of the Republic of Iraq, relating to the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy on 28 March 1974 in New Delhi. The Agreement was signed by the then Indian Foreign Secretary Mr. Kewal Singh and the Head of Economic Bureau of Iraq Mr. Fakhri Y. Kaddori in the presence of Mrs. Gandhi and Saddam. India tested it first nuclear explosive device on 18 May 1974, in less than two months time from signing of these agreements, thanks to the massive infusion of Iraqi petro-dollars to the program.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that the Iraqi researchers were allowed access to work with Indian scientists in the Plutonium separation labs that were used to extract Plutonium for India’s first nuclear explosion. Saddam later managed to obtain a nuclear fuel reprocessing unit from CNEN of Italy. India also leased numerous scientists to Iraq under the garb of Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement over the years. One such scientist spent a year training Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission’s Scientists on use of nuclear computer codes to carry out computer simulated cold nuclear tests. India taught Iraq many tricks, including how easy it was to hide a nuclear weapons program under the cover of peaceful use.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that nuclear cooperation between Iraq and India continued under the patronage of two governments and soon extended to other Iraqi WMD programs like Chemical and Biological Weapons. India had an extensive covert chemical weapons program and it helped Iraq tremendously in this field. India itself lied to the international community when it signed Chemical Weapons Treaty in 1997 as a non Chemical weapons State but later admitted it CWs program under threat of challenge inspection. In 1986 India had procured 160,000 aluminum tubes from European suppliers and again in 2000-1 which CIA presumed was a proof of an Iraqi centrifuge program. Iraq turned to Indian company NEC and Dubai Branch of Indian Company TT S.A. when other source failed to provide it Al tube. A Dubai based Iraqi businessman Muntasir Awni acted as conduit between the two Indian companies and Iraqi company Rasheed for supply of these Al tubes. NEC Engineers India Private LTD also supplied al-Mamoon Plant in Iraq a new plant to produce ammonium per chlorate a key ingredient in the production of solid fuel propellant rocket motors. NEC also supplied technology for Fallujah 2 chlorine plant. Aording to an independent Iraqi paper, al – Mada, Saddam also paid oil as bribes to Indian Congress Party’s top officials extensively to create political support inside of India for such sensitive transfers.
The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that now, as the US President is about land in New Delhi, the Indian government is reported to be working on three specific deliverables as a proof of its commitment to what John Kerry and his team sought from Delhi during his last visit, earlier this month. They are also making all out arrangements to re-engage Americans in the atomic energy sector, nearly 10 years since the first announcement on the India-US civil nuclear agreement by the previous UPA administration.
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been asked to finalize its negotiating stance for signing an “administrative arrangement” aimed at activation of the provisions of the ‘Arrangements and Procedures’ inked by the two countries on July 30, 2010, on reprocessing nuclear material.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that Indian negotiators have also been told to wrap up time-bound “project proposals” for the two projects involving US reactor vendors — with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy for setting up two 1500 MWe reactor units at Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh, and with Westinghouse Electric Company for two 1100 MWe reactors at Chhaya Mithi Virdi in Gujarat. Similarly,on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act 2010, some provisions of which are being seen as a hindrance for supply of equipment by US reactor vendors and sub-suppliers, New Delhi has instructed state-owned General Insurance Corporation to prepare a blueprint for an appropriate product to cover the liability of the operator ,state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation or NPCIL, under the legislation.
According to the sources, to address concerns of the suppliers (vendors to NPCIL), an assurance on capping time and cost liabilities under the overall provisions of the Indian nuclear legislation, possibly through amendments to Section 17 (b) of the Act and changes to Section 46 to take care of concurrent liability, is likely to be extended to the American side during the bilateral negotiations.
“The President is definitely keeping the entire state of affairs at Delhi with regard to the DRDO affairs and the Iran connections and he is also very well briefed by the concerned quarters about moving forward with Indians in this direction. There are certain very hard points to be raised with Indians. However, very little is to be made public as White House does not intend to spoil the festivity event of the host country and also want to undermine, publically, the bitterness of the issues. But it does not mean that the Obama Administration is gonna keep its eyes shut and remain silent. The issues would surely be raised and explanation are going to be sought and Delhi’s past record on nuclear proliferation and missile tech transfer etc would placed on table before further commencement” a highly reliable White House source told this scribe here at Washington at the eve of President Obama’s departure for New Delhi.
Oct 26, 2016 0
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