Still downplaying the confidential leak of the Scorpene submarine data, Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said that vital aspects of the submarine deal have not been leaked and that "the most important signature is not part of the documents."
Parrikar told the media on Friday: "We are going by the assumption of the worst case scenario. Don't think its a big worry. We will be able to put things in the right direction. I have told them (Indian Navy), based on inputs, to find out area of concerns and take appropriate steps to address it. Our submarine has so far not done sea trials, therefore, the most important signature doesn't form part of docs."
This was a change in stance by Parrikar who a day before had said that the leaked data in the documents "do not pose any security compromise as the vital parameters have been blacked out." This changed stance may be attributed to the response to Parrikar's statements by the Australian journalist, Cameron Stewart, who brought out the leak.
Calling Parrikar's comments "completely laughable," he said: They [Indian Navy] are either incredibly stupid or deliberately misleading the Indian people to play down the damage to India's national security." He also said that the entire sets of documents "are completely un-redacted and have all the sensitive data in them" and were only redacted by The Australian newspaper as a safe measure.
The newspaper on Wednesday raised alarms for security establishments, when it reported that over 22,000 pages detailing the combat and performance capabilities of six Scorpene-class submarines produced by India in partnership with French company DCNS have been leaked. The data theft or leak threatens to jeopardize the $3.5 billion deal signed in 2005 to build six Scorpene-class submarines.
The leak that French authorities later described as documents being stolen from French naval contractor DCNS, is reported to have details like specifications of the torpedo launch system, speed and condition needed for using the periscope and functioning of the above-water and underwater sensors. According to the report, the data tells the submarine crew where on the boat they can speak safely to avoid detection by the enemy.
The Australian also exonerated India from having leaked the files as it claims that "separate confidential DCNS files on plans to sell French frigates to Chile and the French sale of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship carrier to Russia" were also included in the leak.
The Indian government also issued a statement on Thursday that urged French government to probe the alleged data theft. "The Indian Navy has taken up the matter with the Director General of Armament of the French Government. It has expressed concern over this incident. The Navy has requested the French Government to investigate this incident with urgency and share their findings with the Indian side," the Navy said in a statement.