As a debate raged over sensitivity of leaked Scorpene data, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday played down the leak, saying it is â€œnot a big worryâ€ as weapon system details were not included. The remark has been challenged by the publisher who asserted these will be made public on Monday.
Hours later, Cameron Stewart, the journalist who broke the story regarding the leak of 22,000 pages of â€œrestrictedâ€ data on the capabilities of six highly advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai under licence from DCNS, said those also have been leaked.
â€œIndiaâ€™s defence minister says leaked data on Scorpene Submarines does not include weapons systems. Wrong. We will release weapons docs Monday,â€ he tweeted.
â€œWhen I say we will release a leaked document on Scorpene weapons systems, they will of course be redacted by us of sensitive information.â€
When I say we will release a leaked document on Scorpene weapons systems, they will of course be redacted by us of sensitive information.â€” cameron stewart (@camstewarttheoz) August 26, 2016
India's defence minister is wrong to say leaked Scorpene docs do not include weapons info. will release (self-censored) weapons doc Monday.â€” cameron stewart (@camstewarttheoz) August 26, 2016
During the Scorpene leaks story The Australian has not and will not to place on web any document that would harm India's national securityâ€” cameron stewart (@camstewarttheoz) August 26, 2016
However, the Minister while noting that he is speaking on the basis of Navyâ€™s briefing to him, said there are â€œfew pockets of concernsâ€ because the ministry is assuming the worst case scenario.
He also made it clear that the leak of documents on Scorpene submarines will not have any impact on any deal being worked out with the French including the Rafale fighter jet contract.
The Defence Minister said that the leaked documents put on the web of â€˜The Australianâ€™ newspaper does not include details of any of the weaponry systems of the Scorpene as has been reported in the media. Parrikar said that the Navy has assured him that most of the leaked documents are not of concern.
â€œWeapon system agreements are with weapon manufacturers and they are separate agreements. Secondly, all submarines have so far not done the sea trials. Therefore the most important signature (movement of the submarine) does not form part of the documents.
â€œThe most important aspect is that we do our integration through our technical capability,â€ he said.
The remarks by the Minister came even as Defence Ministry sources played down the leak saying it does not compromise national security as the documents were old and did not contain details of weapon system.
The minister also said that Scorpene submarine has not even fully completed the sea trials, which is important to understand how it will work under water.The Indian Navy has taken up Scorpene document leak matter with French Directorate General of Armament.
â€œWe are waiting for the report. Basically, what is on the website is not of big concern. We are assuming, on our own, that this has leaked and we are taking all precautionsâ€, he told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar organised by defence website bharatshakti.in.
â€œWhat I am given to understand is that there are few pockets of concern assuming that what is claimed to have been leaked has leaked actually.
â€œWe are going by assumption of the worst case scenario. I think there is not big worry because we will be able out put things in right perspectiveâ€, Parrikar added.Â
Asked by a journalist whether the Rafale deal would be affected because of the leak, the minister, who was puzzled by the query, shot back questioning whether one can stop using French products just because a leak has happened in another company.
â€œYou stop using all products from France? Obviously, the companies are different, the type of equipment is different and an incident should be punished with whatever the contractual punishment is there. It is not intentionally leaked,â€ Parrikar said.
While media reports from France have said that the documents were â€œstolenâ€ by a former DCNS employee, India has not received anything in writing.
More than 22,000 pages of top secret data on the capabilities of six highly advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with a French company have been leaked, ringing alarm bells in the security establishment.
The combat capability of the Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon dock at a cost of over USD 3.5 billion under licence from French firm went public when the Australian newspaper put the details on the website.
Asked whether the Ministry has got in touch with the newspaper for the set of documents, he said, â€œWhy should I? I am assuming that everything has leaked.â€
When asked if the DCNS should have informed India about the leak which is said to have happened in 2011, Parrikar said the government will wait for an official reply from the firm.
â€œOne aspect is security which is a top priority for us. Â We have a team in place. They are going into the details assuming that the leak has taken place.
â€œThe second aspect is the contractual obligation and proper information. That we have asked and are waiting for a reply from them. Let the reply come,â€ he said.
Asked how concerned or how alarmed was he, the minister said, â€œIf you ask me, I have always expressed my concern until a solution has been found. But the navy has assured me that most of the concerns, like I told you for example, the arms... Â we have different contract as far as arms and ammunition are concerned.
â€œIn 2011 and 2014 we have developed our own document, with the help of which we have... whereas there are many modifications which have been done,â€ he said.
Parrikar stressed that India does its own integration. â€œSo all these aspects makes lot of concerns in much lower potential or category. They (navy) have assured me that probably they we will be able to address most of concerns,â€ he said.