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Despite an agreement with AEC India that the USAEC was making Dr. Pinajian “available as an expert,” and a suggestion by Dr. Homi Sethna, then AEC India chairman, that the scientist should ‘immediately’ go to work at BARC, Dr. Raja Ramanna, the head of BARC avoided meeting him until Dr. Sethna personally intervened to get him the appointment. But the meeting was fruitless for the American scientist, as the BARC chief said it would be ‘impractical’ for him to work in the particular division he wanted to be in, as that would require permission from the Centre.
Dr. Ramanna pushed him off to TIFR instead. There too, Dr. Pinajian tried in vain to meet the institute’s boss, Dr. M.G.K. Menon. A member of Dr. Menon’s staff, Professor B.V. Thosar, had asked for permission to work with Dr. Pinajian, but “months have passed” and neither had heard anything.
The scientist felt this was significant as both BARC and TIFR would be “principal Orgnaisations [sic] involved in any move toward development of a nuclear device.”
Even Dr. Sethna, the USAEC scientist’s initial supporter, seemed to have abandoned him. “Additionally Pinajian has had increasing difficulty in seeing Sethna (has not seen since Feb although has requested appointment on number of occasions),” the cable notes.
The cable says that “key men in India’s atomic energy hierarchy are apparently reluctant to allow Pinajian to become involved in any access to these institutions. In my view their reluctance derives from their concern that Pinajian is knowledgeable and could find out more than they might like that he should. They probably fear we may be using him to observe their activities in the nuclear field”. Then, despite Dr. Sethna’s statement that Trombay is “wide open and we have no secrets,” Pinajian told the U.S. Consul General, his contacts with personnel working there “(and he has a number of excellent contacts who value his advice) do not bear this out. His contacts suggest that outsiders working at Trombay are not free to roam around. In fact, friendly sources are unable to tell him who is working on a project and what is being done.” Pinajian, says the cable, was satisfied from all indications available to him that the Indians are doing extensive work in the field of plutonium, recognising in addition that a “strong base for plutonium work is also necessary for utilization of plutonium in the DAE breeder reactor program.”