India says newspaper leak of submarine papers doesn't compromise security

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 25, 2016 6:50 AM

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Thursday that it sees no immediate security risk from the leak to an Australian newspaper of secret documents detailing the capability of a French-designed submarine being built for its navy.

The defense ministry said it had taken up the matter with the French government after The Australian newspaper splashed a story on Wednesday saying it had obtained more than 22,000 pages of details about the Scorpene submarine.

The newspaper published only a fraction of those documents, and these had been redacted, meaning that sensitive details relating to the Scorpene's design and stealth capabilities did not enter the public domain.

"The documents that have been posted ... have been examined and do not pose any security compromise as the vital parameters have been blacked out," the defense ministry said in a statement.

The submarines, designed by French naval contractor DCNS, are being built at a state-run shipyard in Mumbai. The first is expected to enter service by the end of the year as India seeks to rebuild its dwindling fleet and assert its hegemony over the strategic waters of the Indian Ocean.

The leak has raised doubts about the security of a separate DCNS submarine project in Australia where it is locked in exclusive negotiations after seeing off rivals for a A$50 billion ($38 billion) contract to build the Barracuda next generation of submarines.

DCNS, which is 35 percent owned by Thales <TCFP.PA>, said it was working to determine if any harm had been caused to clients and whether commercial espionage was to blame.

India "has requested the French government to investigate this incident with urgency and share their findings", the defense ministry also said, adding it was conducting an internal audit and taking up the matter with foreign governments to find out more about the leak.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Aditi Shah and Simon Cameron-Moore)