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Civil servant leaked info about N-programme: Jaswant
July 25, 2006 16:48 IST
Last Updated: July 25, 2006 17:33 IST
A civil servant in a high position in the Prime Minister's Office during the P V Narasimha Rao government had leaked information about India's nuclear programme to the US, former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh disclosed on Tuesday.
Without naming the person, he said the 'mole' had given information about India's 'nuclear programme and nuclear intent' to the US.
Asked at a press conference to name the 'mole', the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said he would 'share whatever details I have' with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh personally. He said he had sought an appointment with the prime minister to do so.
"The civil servant was in such a high position that he was privy to a lot of information," Jaswant Singh said, adding the person concerned was no longer in office or the country.
The former external affairs minister, however, evaded a clear-cut reply when asked repeatedly why the subsequent National Democratic Alliance government allowed the civil servant to go scot-free despite him having leaked sensitive information.
"It did not involve such serious secrets," he said and added that secrets like technology to make a nuclear bomb can be downloaded on the internet.
The BJP leader said in April 1996 he had got hold of a letter, which spoke about the leakage of information from the PMO during the Narasimha Rao-led government.
"The US was fully in knowledge of what we were doing," said Singh referring to India's nuclear programme.
The former external affairs minister, who was engaged in four-year-long talks with the US on the nuclear issue during the NDA rule, said he was not sure whether Washington was irked more because India conducted the atomic tests or because they were unable to detect plans to conduct Pokhran explosions in 1998.
Singh sought to clarify a number of queries that have been raised following the publication of his book A Call to Honour - In Service of Emergent India.
On the 1999 Kandahar hijacking, he denied allegations about payment of Rs 900 crore to the hijackers of Indian Airlines plane IC-814 for the release of 166 passengers who were held hostage.
"No money was ever paid to anybody for obtaining the release of IC-814 and the hijacked passengers on December 31, 1999, either then, earlier or later," he said on being asked whether any ransom amount was given to the hijackers.
Singh described it as a 'baseless canard' which was 'motivated'.
Singh also rubbished the charge that he had carried a red bag with explosives to Kandahar to meet one of the demands of the hijackers. "No red bag accompanied me, nor did I have any such bag carried for me on the relief/rescue flight. Indeed, I have never possessed, borrowed or carried any red bag ever," the BJP leader said.
On his going to Kandahar taking three terrorists, Singh said, "This was judged essentially to meet contingencies, to take needed decisions on the spot."