NEW DELHI, Oct 28: India and Israel secretly planned to hit nuclear facility in Kahuta near Islamabad in 1983-84 but backed off when the CIA tipped off Pakistan’s then president Gen Ziaul Haq.
This was claimed in a report from London published in The Asian Age, citing details revealed by investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark in their book titled ‘Deception: Pakistan, the US and the Global Weapons Conspiracy’.
The authors highlighted India’s intelligence links with Israel at the time when the two countries did not have any diplomatic contact.
“In February 1983, with the strike plan at an advanced stage, Indian military officials had travelled secretly to Israel, which had a common interest in eliminating (Dr A.Q.) Khan, to buy electronic warfare equipment to neutralise Kahuta’s air defences,” the book said.
India put its plans on hold after Dr Raja Ramanna, the then director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, was warned by the then Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Munir Ahmed Khan in Vienna in the autumn of 1983 that Islamabad would attack Trombay if its facilities in Kahuta were hit.
At this juncture, the book said, Israel suggested that they would carry out the raid on Kahuta, using India’s Jamnagar base in Gujarat to launch its jets and use another base in northern India for refuelling the aircraft. “In March 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed off (on) the Israeli-led operation, bringing India, Pakistan and Israel to within a hair’s breadth of a nuclear conflagration.”
However, the authors said India and Israel backed down after the CIA tipped off Gen Zia and the US state department warned India that “the US will be responsive if India persists.”
The book further said Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had aborted the operation despite protests from military planners in New Delhi and Jerusalem.