Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar Wednesday said it was too early to “assume” that sensitive data and designs of the Scorpene submarines have been compromised and such “claims” have to be first verified by the Indian Navy.
Speaking to The Indian Express after The Australian newspaper reported that classified details of the submarines being built in India had been leaked, Parrikar said: “We simply cannot assume something because of the small quantum of documents which have been put out on a newspaper website without any technical specifications. We have to first gauge the quantum of the leak and find out links to India. What we have before us are just claims that thousands of documents have been leaked. And in any case, what is being spoken about are old documents, going back to the year 2010 or 2011.”
He said he had already asked the Navy to submit an interim inquiry report on the matter which they should within the next 24-48 hours. Only then can an assessment of any “damage control” be made, he said.
“We have to be very careful in making our assessments. All aspects of the matter will be examined and whatever preventive measures need to be taken will be taken. But all that will be done only after the Navy submits its initial findings.’’
Parrikar sought to distance himself from remarks made earlier in the day when he said that in his understanding, the leak was a case of “hacking” and “it came to my knowledge around 12 o’clock yesterday night”.
“I cannot categorically say whether there was any hacking or leak. When did I say that there was hacking? Once the information is put up before me by the Navy, only then will a clear picture emerge. It is too premature at this stage to make an assessment and, if required at a later stage, whatever needs to be done will be done.”
Parrikar did not comment when he was asked if French shipbuilder DCNS had already been contacted by the Ministry of Defence or the Indian Navy to ascertain facts about the data leak.
But officials in the Ministry of Defence indicated that 100 per cent technical data was never left with the manufacturer and in the event of a leak, India could always exercise the option of tweaking or altering critical technical specifications. “If required, we can make some changes in design and technical parameters,” an official said.