There are red faces amongst the top brass, too. TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson reports that India may have used sandstorms, bad weather and nighttime action to "deceive and decoy" American military satellites -- and cover up the test sites until the last minute.
But the 24-year-old Indian nuclear program itself can hardly be called a covert operation. In fact, it seems the long-running debate over New Delhi's nuclear capability is precisely what lulled Washington to sleep this time. "A lot of folks at the State Department are saying, 'Gee, we really liked the ambiguity,'" says Thompson. Of course, India had to come out of the closet sometime. Too bad no one was watching.