1994 espionage case: Joe Biden was key in denying the engine to India, Kerala HC told

Biden believed India should not be given the cryogenic engine because it will be used in missiles.

Published: 14th January 2023 07:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2023 07:47 AM   |  A+A-

G20 Summit, Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

KOCHI: The 1994 espionage case was fabricated and the arrest of Nambi Narayanan was illegal, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the Kerala High Court on Friday. The investigating agency added that the case is a serious matter involving national security and foreign powers were involved in the conspiracy to fabricate the case against eminent scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). 

In the 1990s, the current US President Joe Biden, who was then a senator, played a crucial role in denying India the cryogenic engine technology that powers the GSLV series of heavy-lift rockets.

Biden believed India should not be given the cryogenic engine because it will be used in missiles. The cryogenic engine can be used in missile technology and the ban was on that grounds, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju submitted. “Foreign powers did not want India to develop the cryogenic engine, hence the conspiracy was hatched to derail the project.”

Conspiracy aimed to derail project: ASG

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju made the submission while opposing the anticipatory bail plea of first accused S Vijayan, second accused Thampi S Durgadutt, Siby Mathew (fourth accused), R B Sreekumar (seventh accused), P S Jayaprakash (11th accused) and V K Maini (17th accused).

Sreekumar, then deputy director of the intelligence bureau (IB) in Thiruvananthapuram played an active role in the wrongful detention of the victims. IB had no authority to interrogate Nambi Narayanan when he was in police custody. Hence, it is an unauthorised interrogation.

Nambi and another former ISRO scientist Sasikumaran were pressured, even tortured, to falsely implicate Muthunayagam, then director of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), who was dealing with cryogenic projects, the ASG said.

“The cryogenic engine technology was denied to us because of the Pokhran nuclear test. Russia, therefore, did not transfer the technology. If the technology were handed over to us, we would have been faster in engine development. The development was managed by then scientists, including Nambi Narayanan,” the ASG said, adding, “. The entire conspiracy with the possible foreign hand was to derail the project.”


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