India denies letting US officials on board INS Chakra
India's defense establishment has rejected Russian media reports that US military officials were allowed to board INS Chakra, a nuclear-attack submarine leased by India from Russia. The reports appear to have been triggered by defense lobbyists looking to stall India's talks with Russia to lease another nuclear submarine, NDTV's Vishnu Som has reported. Here's more about it.
The 12,000-tonne INS Chakra is powered by a 190 MW nuclear reactor and can travel at speeds of over 30 knots. It has a crew of 80 submariners and unlike India's smaller diesel-electric vessels, features a recreation area, a gymnasium, and a sauna. It is armed with a wide array of advanced sensors, torpedoes, and tactical missiles. It can reach a depth of 600-meters.
Kommersant, a Russian news portal, reported that the Indian Navy had allowed a technical crew from the US military to inspect INS Chakra. It described the incident an "unprecedented scandal" that threatens "to seriously complicate the negotiations on the lease of the second nuclear submarine, and on other projects in the field of military-technical cooperation (between India and Russia)."
A defense source told the Times of India that there was "no question" of allowing either US officials or "anyone else" near the INS Chakra as it would violate the terms of the lease agreement with Russia. "This is a disinformation campaign being carried out by some vested interests," the source added. There has been no official statement by India about the allegations.
Following the Kommersant report, NEWS.ru, another Russian news publication, said that "French lobbyists" having "an ulterior role in spreading misinformation to further their own chances of selling a nuclear-powered attack submarine to India." NEWS.ru said France is also eyeing a role in India's programme to construct a second indigenous aircraft carrier. Russia has offered its expertise for this.
Meanwhile, Indian Defense Ministry sources to NDTV that the timing of the Kommersant news report is interesting. It comes just ahead of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin's visit to New Delhi. India and Russian officials are expected to finalize the terms for leasing another Russian Akula-II nuclear submarine for $2bn during the visit. Last year both countries reached an agreement for the lease.