One of the 1.7 million ‘Kissinger Cables’, dated May 8, 1974, released by WikiLeaks earlier this week, reveals that an Indian defence deal to purchase submarines from Sweden was torpedoed, when the story was leaked to the press in Stockholm.
According to the cable sent from New Delhi to the Commander-in-chief of US Pacific command and US Defence Intelligence Agency, the deal was discussed during the visit of Swedish supreme military commander to India in 1974. The cable says information was confirmed by a ‘source’ at the Swedish Embassy in New Delhi and the military commander was accompanied by Swedish Secretary of State for Defence Anders Thunborg. The cable said that sources characterised Thunborg as part of the ‘India Mafia’ in Sweden, having acquired contacts in India during his earlier involvement with Swedish and international socialist youth affairs. “One of Thunborg’s old Indian friends was Minister of State for Defence Production V C Shukla. According to the source, Indians have been buying Soviet submarines, but are dissatisfied with them,” the cable stated. The cable adds that the Shukla-Thunborg connection gave India a possibility of obtaining superior merchandise from a politically acceptable source.
Thunborg was receptive and following his visit he sent a team from Swedish state-owned shipbuilding company in Karlskrona to India. Congress veteran V C Shukla was included in the Cabinet by Indira Gandhi in 1966 and he held various portfolios including defence, home, parliamentary affairs and information and broadcasting.
The source in the Swedish Embassy told the US Embassy official that the leak in Stockholm newspapers would deeply embarrass Indians and the Soviets would be displeased to learn of the contemplated deal.
“The source said that Indian purchases of $30 million worth of other military equipment, including the ‘Gustav Vasa’ grenade launcher, were also agreed during the Thunborg visit,” the cable added.