Rafale Deal Details Can’t be Disclosed, it is a Matter of National Security: Defence Ministry

India.com News Desk
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New Delhi, Feb 8: The Ministry of Defence on Wednesday said in a statement that “the deal for 36 Rafale fighters secured by the government is better in terms of capability, price, equipment, delivery, maintenance, training, etc” than the one negotiated for 126 Rafale fighter aircraft by the UPA government. It also added that the allegations levelled by the Opposition about Rs 58,000-crore deal are “unfounded” and the demand to disclose the details might compromise India’s national security.

“Provision of exact item-wise cost and other information will reveal, inter alia, details regarding the various customisations and weapons systems specially designed to augment the effectiveness and lethality of the assets, impact our military preparedness and compromise our national security,” it said. (Read full statement here)

The government’s response came a day after the Congress launched a concerted attack on it over the “top secret” deal, alleging a “scam” and accusing the government of compromising” on national interest and security. On Monday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while replying to a question on the matter in Rajya Sabha had said that the information on the cost per Rafale could not be shared since as it was “classified information” under the security agreement between India and France.

In a statement, the defence ministry said the earlier UPA government had also expressed its inability to disclose the price of various defence procurements, including in its responses to Parliament questions, in keeping with confidentiality requirements.

The MoD statement referred to the “Agreement between The Government of the Republic of India and The Government of the French Republic concerning the Protection of Classified Information and Material in the field of Defence”, signed in New Delhi on January 25, 2008.

Earlier last year, at a press conference on November 17, Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the details, on the comparative cost of each aircraft negotiated by the then UPA government for the original deal for 126 aircraft and the rate at which the NDA had sealed the Rafale contract, would be provided soon. However, the government did not reveal the details.

On Tuesday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had said, “Modi ji has personally got the deal done. Modi ji had personally gone to Paris. Personally the deal was changed. Entire India knows it. And the defence minister is saying she will not inform India, the Indian martyrs and their relatives about the money spent on buying those aircraft. What does this mean? This only means there is some scam,” he alleged.