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CIA needs recruits to spy on India's nuke program

CIA needs recruits to spy on India's nuke program

Author: Aziz Haniffa
Publication: The Times of India (web edition)
Date: March 20, 2001

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has created a special cell to "aggressively recruit" agents to penetrate the nuclear weapons establishments of India and Pakistan so that it will not be caught napping as it was when New Delhi carried out the Pokhran nuclear tests in May 1998.

The CIA would also employ some of the most sophisticated satellites to keep a close watch on the nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programs of the two countries, intelligence sources said. The CIA has not forgotten how it had been made a laughing stock because of its failure to detect the Indian tests and the agency suffered untold humiliation with late night comedians like Jay Leno saying CIA stood for "Can't Identify Anything," and lawmakers like Rep. John Traficant, Ohio Democrat, saying the billions of dollars given to the CIA each year by Congress would be better spent if it were provided to CNN, because this news network caught the tests before the CIA did.

Reeling from the ignominy, the sources said CIA director George Tenet was determined to completely revamp the intelligence capabilities of the agency, both by means of sophisticated technology, as well as by "the old fashioned way" of recruiting agents and posting its own agents in countries like India and Pakistan, where in recent years, spying had ground to a halt.

The sources said the CIA had already obtained the appropriation from Congress for the resurrection of these covert activities in many nations, including India and Pakistan, by selling the line that the weapons programs of these nations posed a threat to the stability of the region and America's own national security interests.

The newly created special cell will have special country officers for India and Pakistan and a team of specialists to track perceived clandestine transfers from the two countries as well as China, North Korea and Russia.

The sources said the cell would come under the rubric of a unit that has been created by Tenet comprising 500 analysts, scientists and support personnel to focus on non-proliferation and arms control issues. Called The Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center, the unit is envisaged to bring three existing CIA analytic staff together under Alan Foley, a veteran Soviet military analyst, who as head of the Arms Control Intelligence Staff has spent the last three years supporting arms control treaty negotiators.

Last week, in announcing the creation of the Weapons Intelligence, Non-proliferation and Arms Control Center, Tenet said he was striving for "increased synergy on key missile and nuclear issues as well as better integration between payload and delivery systems analyses."

According to the sources, a conscious decision had been taken by Tenet and several other senior agency officials -many of whom remained Cold War warriors that the CIA should have it own agenda and not be influenced by any of the non-proliferation and security diplomatic track being conducted with India and Pakistan by State Department and White House officials.

Last month, Rumsfeld shocked the pro-India lobby here and undoubtedly the powers that be in New Delhi when appearing on the much respected PBS new program, the Jim Lehrer News Hour, that the sales of weapons technologies to the likes of India, North Korea and Iran was a major proliferation problem the Bush administration would have to deal with. Rumsfeld warned that these technologies in the hands of India, North Korea and Iran "are threatening other people including the US, Western Europe and countries in West Asia."

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