KGB records show how spies penetrated the heart of India

Sridhar

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KGB records show how spies penetrated the heart of India
The Kremlin spent a fortune trying to influence the press, police, ministers and Indira Gandhi
By Michael Binyon
A HUGE cache of KGB records smuggled out of Moscow after the fall of communism reveal that in the 1970s India was one of the countries most successfully penetrated by Soviet intelligence.

A number of senior KGB officers have testified that, under Indira Gandhi, India was one of their priority targets.

“We had scores of sources through the Indian Government — in intelligence, counter-intelligence, the defence and foreign ministries and the police,” said Oleg Kalugin, once the youngest general in Soviet foreign intelligence and responsible for monitoring KGB penetration abroad. India became “a model of KGB infiltration of a Third World government”, he added.

Such claims have previously been ignored or brushed aside by Delhi. But the revelations from the KGB documents that form one of the biggest Western intelligence coups in recent years provide firm evidence for these claims. The records have been analysed in a new book about the KBG’s global operations, and the first extracts appear today in Times Books.

According to these top-secret records, brought to the West by Vasili Mitrokhin, a former senior archivist of the KGB, Soviet intelligence set out to exploit the corruption that became endemic under Indira Gandhi’s regime.
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Despite her own frugal lifestyle, suitcases full of banknotes were said to be routinely taken to the Prime Minister’s house to finance her wing of the Congress Party. One of her opponents claimed that Mrs Gandhi did not even return the suitcases.

The Prime Minister was unaware that some of the suitcases, which replenished Congress’s coffers, came from Moscow via the KGB.

Her principal fundraiser, Lalit Narayan Mishra, however, knew that he was accepting Soviet money. Short and obese with several chins, Mishra looked the part of the corrupt politician that he increasingly became. Particularly after Mrs Gandhi signed a Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Co-operation with the Soviet Union, the KGB was anxious to do what it could to keep her in power.

The KGB “residency” in Delhi was one of the largest in the world outside the Soviet bloc, and was awarded the rare honour by the Centre (KGB HQ in Moscow) of being promoted to “main residency”.

The Indians lifted restrictions on the number of Soviet diplomats and trade officials in the country, thus allowing the KGB numerous cover positions. One of the KGB heads of political intelligence in Delhi, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, went on to head Russian foreign intelligence, became a confidant of President Putin and was appointed Russian Ambassador to Delhi last year.

The Russians were also extremely active in trying to influence Indian opinion. According to KGB files, by 1973 it had on its payroll ten Indian newspapers as well as a press agency. The previous year the KGB claimed to have planted 3,789 articles in Indian newspapers — probably more than in any other country in the non-communist world. By 1975 the number of articles it claimed to have inspired had risen to 5,510. India was also one of the most favourable environments for Soviet front organisations.

Christopher Andrew, the Cambridge historian who co-operated with Mitrokhin after his defection to Britain, says in his account of this huge operation that the KGB fatally overestimated its own influence. It also failed to anticipate the backlash against Mrs Gandhi after her imposition in 1975 of the state of emergency.

“Reports from the Delhi main residency claimed exaggerated credit for using its agents of influence to persuade Mrs Gandhi to declare the emergency,” Professor Andrew writes. “But both the Centre and the Soviet leadership found it difficult to grasp that the emergency had not turned her into a dictator and that she still responded to public opinion and had to deal with the Opposition.”

The head of the Delhi KGB admitted: “The embassy and our intelligence service saw all this, but for Moscow Indira became India, and India Indira.” Reports from the Delhi main residency that were critical of any aspect of her policies received a cool reception in the Centre and seem not to have been passed on to the Kremlin. Moscow put repeated pressure on the Communist Party of India to throw its full support behind Mrs Gandhi.

Despite spending some 10.6 million roubles (more than £10 million in old exchange rates) on influence operations to support Mrs Gandhi and undermine her opponents, Moscow did not foresee the sudden end of emergency rule. Her landslide defeat in the elections of 1977 brought Moraji Desai, one of the KGB's bêtes noires, to power, and even when Mrs Gandhi returned to office, relations with Moscow were never as close again.

In 1992 the 70-year-old Vasili Mitrokhin, his family and six large containers of KGB documents that he had secretly copied over 12 years and hidden beneath his dacha were smuggled by British intelligence out of Russia. The FBI has called the Mitrokhin archive “the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source”. Mitrokhin died in Britain last year.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article567444.ece
 

Soham

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A very interesting read. Goes on to show how entire strategies have been created to make full use of corrupt Indian politicians. The infiltration was admirable though..
 

EnlightenedMonk

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It was admirable, but I doubt whether it caused too much damage to our interests, Russia was and is a friendly country, they might have had access to certain sensitive information and may have been in a position to slightly influence public opinion...

All's well that ends well... but, we must learn our lessons from this and make sure that such nonsense doesn't recur again...
 

Antimony

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I am not sure I completely understand what they achieved

1. We took their money (or rather, the congress and its minions took their money)
2. They sold us arms (so they get some of our money, maybe a lot of it)
3. They keep China focussed on themselves
4. We still go out and make friends with America

Now we do have to make sure that such suitcases do not find their way to our politicos again:(:)(:)((
 

p2prada

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Don't be surprised. Suitcases continue coming to India, from China and the US. Don't for one moment believe that our politicians are not for sale. If the price is right, then everything has a re-sale value too. The US has been stealing information from our Nuclear industry through bureaucrats since decades. All this from a high profile Ex-RAW Officer in a book. I forgot which one though. Once caught, the bureaucrats get a safe haven in the US.
 

johnee

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Maybe, these things are still happening. Maybe, not just KGB, but CIA, and other such org.s might have infiltrated to the heart of India. May be public opinion is guided by such parties through media.
Scary thoughts...
 

Soham

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I am not sure I completely understand what they achieved

1. We took their money (or rather, the congress and its minions took their money)
2. They sold us arms (so they get some of our money, maybe a lot of it)
3. They keep China focussed on themselves
4. We still go out and make friends with America

Now we do have to make sure that such suitcases do not find their way to our politicos again:(:)(:)((
We didn't exactly go make friends with America at that time, and what they achieved was a heavy influence on India's foreign affairs and a strategic tilt towards Moscow.
 

Antimony

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We didn't exactly go make friends with America at that time, and what they achieved was a heavy influence on India's foreign affairs and a strategic tilt towards Moscow.
In that case the only thing they achieved was India's silence over Afghanistan. Was that harmful for us? Yes.

What it gave us was some kind of occupancy of the Chinese on their northern border. Was that gain equivalent to the loss of afghani friendship. I have no idea how to begin answering that question
 

Soham

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In that case the only thing they achieved was India's silence over Afghanistan. Was that harmful for us? Yes.

What it gave us was some kind of occupancy of the Chinese on their northern border. Was that gain equivalent to the loss of afghani friendship. I have no idea how to begin answering that question
While I wouldn't call Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation "not-so-useful", the loss of Afghani friendship was heavy indeed.

The Soviet support in 1971 was significant in the '71 victory. American and Chinese involvement could very well have screwed up our delicate war on two fronts.
 

Ray

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I am not sure I completely understand what they achieved

1. We took their money (or rather, the congress and its minions took their money)
2. They sold us arms (so they get some of our money, maybe a lot of it)
3. They keep China focussed on themselves
4. We still go out and make friends with America

Now we do have to make sure that such suitcases do not find their way to our politicos again:(:)(:)((
The US does the same (remember the case of the RAW officer who went off to the US even though it should not have been possible since he was supposed to be under surveillance!) and so do many other countries.

Moraji Desai was accused of being an US spy!

It happens all the time!

It is not globalisation and liberalisation alone which is changing opinions.
 

Ray

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On spying in India.

Here is an article by AG Noorani

INDIANS take a strange view of intelligence. Spy stories are chased energetically; their implications are ignored. The Anderson Papers excited many as proof of American perfidy, which they were not. Our policies, each formed in the respective national interest, clashed. But absent was any comment on how reports of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's talks with the Soviet Ambassador Pegov, at the height of the Bangladesh War in 1971, landed on Henry Kissinger's desk 48 hours later.

Thomas Powers, who wrote a book on the then Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, was precise. The CIA had "an agent" in the Indian Cabinet. Anderson called him "a source close to Mrs. Gandhi". He "whispered darkly that India might launch a major offensive against West Pakistan". Defence Minister Jagjivan Ram said as much publicly on January 18, 1972 in Patna.

Indira Gandhi herself played politics on matters of intelligence. She said at Kanpur on November 9, 1979 that Kissinger had told her that a member of her Cabinet had leaked out information about a possible attack on Pakistan in 1971 and that this had been confirmed in Thomas Powers' book on CIA chief Richard Helms, The Man Who Kept the Secrets, which was published recently. She professed not to know who he was. This, of course, was untrue. No one was sacked. Kissinger had met her in Delhi in October 1974.

Detailed reports of the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Kuznetsov's talks with "Indian officials" in New Delhi, on December 12, 1971, while the war was on, reached the CIA. How?

Anderson's disclosures were lapped up. His conclusions did not cause a ripple: "The fact was that the CIA had penetrated the Indian government at every level and these `independent sources' sent a steady stream of reports back to Washington on troop movements, logistics, strategy and even some of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's secret conversations" (emphasis added throughout).

No small achievement, then, that the CIA was taken unawares by the nuclear tests at Pokhran - May 18, 1974 and May 11 and 13, 1998. These are sad days for American intelligence after the fiasco of the absent WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq, the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the situation in Iran. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair did worse than not seek actionable intelligence intelligently. They suborned the intelligence services as well as legal advisers.

Intelligence was sought to confirm predetermined policy, not to shape it. It is a common human failing to shut one's eyes to unpleasant realities, especially among men charged with hubris. B.N. Mullick wrote a whole book to establish that the Intelligence Bureau reported on Chinese movements on the border. But from July 1, 1954, if not earlier, Nehru was set on a confrontationist course. Which is why he preferred the advice of K.M. Panikkar, whom he despised, to that of Girija Shankar Bajpai and the views of S. Gopal to those of his predecessor as head of the Ministry of External Affairs' (MEA) Historical Division, K. Zachariah. In 1979, the U.S. ignored the warnings of its charge d'affaires Brucelainger in Teheran based on those by Parsa Kia of the Foreign Office that dire consequences would follow if the Shah were allowed to enter the U.S. They did in the seizure of the U.S. Embassy. The fiercely independent National Security Archive in Washington, D.C. has rendered yeoman service in the pursuit of historical truth. On April 13, 2006, it posted an Electronic Briefing Book No. 187 on "U.S. Intelligence and the Indian Bomb" comprising a stimulating Introduction and texts of 40 documents. They are of varying degrees of significance. The Archive's forte are two-fold - skilful use of the Freedom of Information Act plus scholarly analysis. Scholars at the Archive carefully analyse the documents they procure. In India, documents obtained from the National Archives are offloaded on an uncritical public by sloppy researchers and dignified as "scholarly research".

News agencies have reported brief snippets from the Book. The documents should be studied along with the mass of material already in the public domain. What follows here are extracts which reveal that the United States carefully followed India's nuclear programme and that the analyses of its drift and of Indian policies were not wrong. One learns a good deal from the documents despite heavy excisions before declassification; for example on American perceptions of the Sangh Parivar.

The CIA reported from India as early as on October 22, 1964: "The Government of India (GOI) has all of the elements necessary to produce a nuclear weapon and it has the capability to assemble a bomb quickly. India does not plan to commence work on the bomb as yet because the GOI is convinced the CHICOMS [Chinese Communists] will not have an offensive nuclear capability for at least five years. In the meantime, should the situation change, India is relying on President Johnson's assurances to come to the aid of any nation menaced by China. (Source comment: When Parliament reconvenes early in November the GOI expects pressure from some deputies for India to produce a bomb. However, the GOI plans to resist these pressures.)"

Another cable reporting "Indian military views" in December 1964 is heavily censored. It remarked: "One consequence of an Indian program is that one more national state, India, could some day be able to attack the United States with nuclear weapons. In time, the Indians will gain access to rocket technology (perhaps through an earth satellite program) that would give them some delivery capability against us. Secondly, one more national state would have the capacity for starting nuclear actions with a fair chance of spreading and involving the United States." The deletions are in the original. Evidently, some army brass talked freely to American diplomats or CIA agents. "... t follows from the above that there would be a reduction in our [U.S.] power to influence events in South Asia and to some extent throughout the world. India's economic development would suffer - and possibly at serious costs to the Indian social structure. Pressures for further proliferation in Asia would grow. Most notably in Pakistan.

"A Soviet offer of retaliation against China if India is attacked would very probably not be made at this time. Although the basic hostility between Russia and China and the harm done to Russian long-term interests from nuclear spread would seem to support such a guarantee being given to India, the Russians will probably judge the costs among the Communist parties to be too great."

The CIA reported on October 18, 1965 that it would take India a year "to develop nuclear weapons" after a decision to do so. "They could probably produce a weapon deliverable by the Canberra light bomber about two years after a first test." India could produce "about a dozen weapons in the 20 KT range by 1970".

A Special National Intelligence Estimate was produced three days later on "India's Nuclear Weapons Policy". Its opening page read thus: "The Problem: To estimate India's nuclear weapons policy over the next few years. Conclusions: A. India has the capability to develop nuclear weapons. It probably already has sufficient plutonium for a first device, and could explode it about a year after a decision to develop one. [Paras 1-3]. B. The proponents of a nuclear weapons program have been strengthened by the Indo-Pakistani war, but the main political result has been a strengthening of Prime Minister Shastri's position. We believe that he does not now wish to start a program and that he is capable of making this decision stick for the time being. [Paras 4-14]. C. However, we do not believe that India will hold to this policy indefinitely. All things considered, we believe that within the next few years India probably will detonate a nuclear device and proceed to develop nuclear weapons [Paras 15-20]." In 1974 the prediction came true.

In 1966, the U.S. Embassy was directed to keep a close watch on nuclear-related activities. Pokhran I in 1974 came as a humiliating shock to the CIA. Its Director asked "the Intelligence-Community Staff to assess" its own performance. How far was Pokhran I anticipated "both in a technical and political sense". The Report, produced in July 1974, is drastically cut.

One assessment read: "Some Indians have argued, however, that possession of even rudimentary weapons and a delivery system would provide a deterrent against China and reduce Indian dependence on the Soviet Union. The timing of the test may also have been keyed to boost sagging Indian morale in the face of increasing domestic economic problems and political discontent. Most Indians probably favoured the test, but might view the cost of acquiring a weapons and delivery system less enthusiastically... the Soviets share our concern about proliferation."

Four weeks later, an Intelligence Note reported a decline in the euphoria: "One Congress M.P. [Member of Parliament] told Embassy New Delhi that he did not take very seriously the government's claims about the exclusively peaceful purposes of the explosion, and he speculated that most of his colleagues shared his private scepticism. Military officers at the National Defence College expressed certainty that India would develop a weapons capability. An official of the Ministry of External Affairs, while acknowledging that nuclear explosions had few peaceful uses, worried that India's credibility would be eroded if no such uses were found. K. Subrahmanyam, Director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, alleged that no peaceful uses were considered possible before 1990, and that there was a tacit assumption among many Indians that the government's assertions were merely a public relations stand. Therefore, he argued, the erosion of India's credibility might prove to be more harmful than a declared nuclear weapons policy."

In January 1980 Indira Gandhi returned to power and was faced with the problem of supply of enriched uranium for the Tarapore Atomic Power Stations. Pokhran had disrupted the supplies of fuel, affected the Rajasthan APS and made nuclear non-proliferation a major international issue. Both Pokhran I and II were staged for domestic political gains. A.B. Vajpayee, significantly, sought to stage the tests in 1996 when his regime had no chance of surviving a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha.

In May 1982 Indira Gandhi visited the U.S., determined to establish rapport with the U.S. "Will avoid a confrontation during her visit", the CIA reported in December 1981. India came close to rescinding the 1963 Tarapur agreement. U.S. pressure, conveyed through Ambassador Harry Barnes' "Non-papers", forced her to reconsider her plans. These records were obtained by the Archive's Senior Fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson while conducting research for his book. Richelson has written extensively on the CIA and on espionage. The book, published on April 21 this year, is a comprehensive survey of U.S. intelligence on the bomb in other countries - Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, China, France, Israel, South Africa, Taiwan, Iraq, Libya, Iran, North Korea and, of course, India and Pakistan. The author relies on published works, interviews and archival material.

On India he relies on the definitive work - India's Nuclear Bomb by George Perkovich and Weapons of Peace by Raj Chengappa, a respected journalist. Although the main thrust of U.S. intelligence on India and Pakistan's nuclear programmes is well known, the book reveals some significant facts. Time there was when, in 1961, George McGhee in the State Department advocated helping India to build a bomb to counter China. He was rebuffed by Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson directed an all-out effort to get intelligence on India's nuclear programme. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi was very active in reporting the developments. It was the same story in Islamabad. "It did not take such secret intelligence to keep the Indian nuclear weapons problem in front of key decision-makers such as President Richard Nixon, or his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger. Kissinger had been cautioning Indira Gandhi against a test since 1970, when press reports suggested, prematurely, that India was considering conducting a nuclear test. The State Department, then under the command of William Rogers, informed India that employment of the plutonium from the CIRUS reactor for a test would be considered a violation of India's pledge of peaceful uses of the heavy water that had been provided by the United States.

"On May 18, 1972, Kissinger, in Nixon's name, commissioned another study of Indian nuclear developments. The resulting study, by an NSC interdepartmental group, again noted that India's nuclear energy program afforded the country the ability to conduct a test on short notice and `of mounting a rudimentary weapons program on short notice'. The group also wrote, six days before Indira Gandhi's visit to Trombay, that `there is no firm intelligence that Mrs. Gandhi has given a political go-ahead for detonating an underground nuclear device (which the Indians would undoubtedly label a peaceful nuclear device)'. It further reported that `our intelligence assessment is that over the next several years the chances are about even that India will detonate a nuclear device'."

In Pakistan Robert Gallucci's trip was not wasted. He was able to accomplish more than serving as a delivery boy for highly classified satellite photographs. A bit of subterfuge allowed him to bring back some ground-level photographs of Kahuta. He managed to persuade U.S. ambassador Arthur Hummel to let him take a drive near the facility. He had first raised the idea with the embassy's political officer, who said he would go only if ordered by the ambassador. Gallucci then told Hummel that the political officer wanted to go, and Hummel gave the order. They took along an INR representative, who came equipped with a camera that was put to good use. Presidential waivers were made despite full knowledge of Pakistan's nuclear programme. They were stopped once Pakistan had served American interests in Afghanistan and Soviet troops withdrew. The author cites details of U.S.-Pakistan meetings on the subject.

Morarji Desai was not the Gandhian he made himself out to be. Soon after he was sworn in as Prime Minister in March 1977, he convened a meeting of his Cabinet's political affairs committee to discuss Indian nuclear strategy. Although no test was approved, Desai, according to Homi Sethna, gave him the "green signal to refine the design (of the explosive device)", which involved reducing the weight and diameter of the device through miniaturisation.

"Intelligence about Desai's instructions to Sethna apparently reached U.S. officials, since in May 1977 President Carter hurriedly appointed Robert Goheen as U.S. ambassador and requested he meet with Desai immediately and ask him to restrain India's nuclear weapons program. When the two met, Desai pledged, `I will never develop a bomb.'"

Apparently, "both the CIA and NSA probably also reported, later in the 1980s on India's covert acquisition of heavy water from foreign sources, including Norway. The CIA detected an illegal shipment of beryllium from West Germany to India late in the decade. In May 1989 director of Central Intelligence [Agency] William Webster told the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs that one of the indicators to the CIA of a country's interest in developing thermonuclear weapons was the acquisition of beryllium, which he explained was `usually used in enhancing fission reaction'. In addition, the CIA had noted a number of other indicators of Indian interest in developing a hydrogen bomb including purification of lithium, which is needed to produce the tritium used in thermonuclear explosions, and the separation of lithium isotopes."

Note what the author discloses: "India's success in preventing U.S. spy satellites from seeing signs of the planned tests days to weeks in advance was matched by its success in preventing acquisition of other types of intelligence. India's Intelligence Bureau ran an aggressive counterintelligence program, and the CIA, despite a large station in New Delhi, was unable to recruit a single Indian with information about the Vajpayee government's nuclear plans. Instead, the deputy chief of the CIA station in New Delhi was expelled after a botched try at recruiting the chief of Indian counterintelligence operations. Former ambassador Frank Wisner recalled that `we didn't have... the humans who would have given us an insight into their intentions'." Ambassadors do not keep aloof from the CIA's work, evidently. Their denials are false.

NSA's eavesdropping activities did not detect test preparations. "It's a tough problem," one nuclear intelligence expert told investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. India's nuclear weapons establishment would communicate via encrypted digital messages relayed via small dishes through satellites, using a system known as VSAT (very small aperture terminal), "a two-way version of the system used by satellite television companies". Good show. At the end of the day, Americans admitted that even if they had been better informed, they could not have prevented Pokhran II just as they could not deter Pakistan from staging its tests at Chagai.

U.S. espionage in India

 

p2prada

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About the nuclear part in the early 60s. US was hoping India would test a nuclear device before China for PR reasons. Democracy is superior to Communism. Sadly our policy makers were not as visionary as the US had hoped for. Pokhran I came way after all the apartheid treaties were created(NPT, CTBT).
 

Rage

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The level of Soviet penetration in India was minuscule compared to their exploits in espionage in the UK - primarily because India was at the time a friendly country, even if not overtly so. Ever heard of the Phibly-Burgess-Maclean affair - the greatest spy scandal to ever rock the world of British intelligence? and perhaps in all of the West. Infact, if the candid (and now notorious) autobiography of Peter Wright, former Chief Scientific Officer and Assistant Director for MI5 is testament, the level of Soviet penetration in British intelligence extended right up to the top- to the Director Roger Hollis himself, who served between 1956 and 1965. A must read for all those keen on the surreptitious world of espionage, Spycatcher will give you insights into the murky world of espionage you could only ever imagine. I know it has given me a whole new perspective on these issues.
 

p2prada

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The level of Soviet penetration in India was minuscule compared to their exploits in espionage in the UK - primarily because India was at the time a friendly country, even if not overtly so. Ever heard of the Phibly-Burgess-Maclean affair - the greatest spy scandal to ever rock the world of British intelligence? and perhaps in all of the West. Infact, if the candid (and now notorious) autobiography of Peter Wright, former Chief Scientific Officer and Assistant Director for MI5 is testament, the level of Soviet penetration in British intelligence extended right up to the top- to the Director Roger Hollis himself, who served between 1956 and 1965. A must read for all those keen on the surreptitious world of espionage, Spycatcher will give you insights into the murky world of espionage you could only ever imagine. I know it has given me a whole new perspective on these issues.
Soviet union have been stealing nuclear secrets from England for long.

Identity of Soviet spy who triggered Cold War revealed - Yahoo! India News

British spy helped speed up USSR’s atomic bomb program Aftermath News

The spy who started the Cold War - Times Online

Let's not forget the defector Gouzenko too. The person who initiated the Cold War singlehandedly.
 

Rage

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Soviet union have been stealing nuclear secrets from England for long.

Identity of Soviet spy who triggered Cold War revealed - Yahoo! India News

British spy helped speed up USSR’s atomic bomb program Aftermath News

The spy who started the Cold War - Times Online

Let's not forget the defector Gouzenko too. The person who initiated the Cold War singlehandedly.

Igor Gouzenko did not "single-handedly start the Cold War". That is an urban myth :). The British (and subsequently the Yanks via the UKUSA agreement) were already aware of Soviet military aggrandizement and technical advancement through radio analysis of the Venona traffic and through the RAFTER program. Although the Venona project was compromised in 1945 by US Army SIGINT cryptologist Bill Weisband who was being run by the NKVD as an agent, the program gave the West some inkling as to the Soviet Union's massive military agglomeration. Besides, our man Peter Wright reveals that a number of top-level officials, including himself, within the MI5 were always suspicious about Gouzenko's intent (although James Jesus Angleton, CIA director at the time, seemed to repose full faith in his depositions).
 

hit&run

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Enemy at the gates!
Chinese spies are everywhere, and we don’t seem to be scared.

Following the prime minister, Manmohan Singh’s address to the combined military commanders’ conference, the Chinese spoke to the Russians, the South East Asians, Indian officials and Left contacts about their concerns. Typically, they did not reveal themselves, but gauged the reaction and responses of others. They understood, in the broadest terms, that the PM had spoken of a new emerging multipolar world, in which the United States had a special place, and that India had to recognise this reality.

The Chinese have been concerned about the growing Indian-US strategic partnership, commencing from the somewhat indiscreet and unnecessary disclosure by a senior visiting American official earlier this year, that the Bush administration was keen to see India as a great power. No state can make another a great power, this being dependent on various inherent strengths, including economic and military strength and political resilience, and a country’s own greatness, and second, beyond a point, no power would want competition, much less build up another to provide that competition. It is true, one great power can shore up another state as a buffer, an ally, or to provide competition to a strategic rival, but all this is very relative. Even if the Americans meant well, they alerted and angered the Chinese, who thence began the first of the serious snooping about emerging India-US relations.

Their concerns were further and greatly heightened by the 18-July Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, which they have subsequently tried their best to undermine. One is at the level of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group countries, where it is preventing a consensus for India’s admittance, banned since the 1974 nuclear test from receiving atomic fuels and related technologies, and at the second level, it has been prodding Pakistan to demand a similar parity from the US, knowing America will refuse, and despite Pakistan’s notorious proliferation record. Either by coincidence or design, the Left parties, especially those who have fraternal relations with China, part of the international Communist brotherhood, have opposed the 18 July agreement as well, but knowing their leverage to be limited, the Chinese have not relaxed their vigil, but raised it, and now, all aspects of Indian’s expanding relations, with the United States and others, is being watched hawkeyed.

Known to the Indian agencies, but apparently powerless to stop it, the Chinese have begun extensive espionage on India’s external interests. The Taiwanese, who usually do not get the time of day with Indian foreign office officials, who are frightened of offending the Chinese, are yet being tailed twenty-four hours a day round the year by the Chinese here. In lesser degree, the same is the case with the Japanese, the South Koreans, and others in South East Asia, including Vietnam. The fear of the Chinese is so acute that South Korea is being prevented from establishing closer military ties, although they are glad to be junior partners, and the Vietnamese are waiting without much hope for a strategic relationship.

All of ASEAN, but particularly Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, are troubled or terrified of Chinese expansionism. In South East Asia, over twenty-year-old Chinese plans to establish political and economic hegemony have borne fruit, and now, China is trying to press its military might there. The Chinese defence minister, Cao Gangchuan, when he was previously the army chief, had proposed Chinese force projection beyond the South China Sea, an unprecedented thinking in the PLA. This went ahead of the garland-of-pearls strategy, which is setting up forward military bases, like in the ports touching or easily accessible to the Indian Ocean, and the more immediate pressure of Cao Gangchuan’s thinking is being felt by the pro-West ASEAN states.

This is not the result of strategic competition within the region, Japan, which alone could have provided some competition to China, has gone into a shell, especially after its failure to enter the UN Security Council, and others are not in the same league. What China has attempted, and succeeded at partly, is to get hegemony over South East Asia, its own backyard, so to say, and then make the great leap forward, as a power to challenge the United States. This is nearly the route the United States took in the earlier phases of its rise to dominance, controlling the Americas, and the more serious and insightful American commentators are increasingly speaking of China as the default power in case the US does not overcome its blunders after 9/ 11.

Where India figures, is that China ranks it third among the troublesome powers, after the United States and European Union/ Russia, and ASEAN takes fourth place. To show opposition to China, both Thailand and Indonesia have sought Prithvi and BrahMos missiles (Intelligence, “Thailand, Indonesia seek BrahMos, Prithvi,” 23 November 2005), but India is undecided, fearful of the Chinese reaction. Several South East Asian states desire these missiles, but the Indian government is unable to take a stand, and there is also Left pressure on the Centre. The Indian military is pressing hardest for a full-scope defence engagement with South East Asia, the success of the Look East policy is predicated on this, but the Chinese scare comes in the way. It hardly speaks for our courage that Chinese espionage in this country is being allowed untrammeled. “After the US, I thought I could work best here in India, because of its democracy, but the Chinese are on my tail all the time,” said an ASEAN diplomat.
 

NikSha

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How much the Congress is "scared" of China is hard to tell.

For example, the Tibet protests during Olympics, the way they were suppressed could be mostly thanks to Left pressure internally (after receiving orders from their Chinese masters of course).

But now, with Left out of the picture notice how fast the military development in AP is taking place, or how Congress seems to be on warpath against China in every possible way out there.

Hard to tell what will happen next, but my guess is that it isn't THAT easy to infiltrate and control the Indian government and media now days compared to the good old times. But yeah, buying corrupt MP's won't be hard (as shown by cash for query scam recently). I mean, most of these f**ers are criminal scum anyway, won't be surprised if they sold their virginity to their Chinese or American masters.
 

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