Tuesday, 1 September 1998

India was 'Forced' to Conduct Nuclear Tests

(Originally appeared in the 1990s in the Times of India, as published in M. D. Nalapat's book "Indutva", Har-Anand Publications, 1999)

The reasons behind the resuming of nuclear testing are the
continuing negative reaction of the United States of lndia's
nuclear restraint since the 1974 test; the increasing threat from a
nuclear-armed China intent on providing Pakistan with offensive
capability against India; as well as the need to ensure that the
Indian deterrent is safe and reliable. After waiting for nearly 25
years for a positive response to India's soft policy, the country
has been forced into a series of tests to ensure its defence against
future nuclear blackmail.

Despite avoiding further testing since the 1974 "peaceful
nuclear exploration", India was met with sanctions on a range of
nuclear technologies "that were 85% civilian", in the words of
top policy-maker. He added that "even essential safety equipment,
as well as technology and material needed for peaceful
applications such as weather forecasting, were denied to us by
Washington". However, these sanctions had the effect of spurring
Indian scientists into developing supercomputers and other
equipment "that even China cannot match", he added.

Another reason for the resuming of testing by the world’s
sixth declared nuclear power was the stepping-up of China’s
assistance to Pakistan through its North Korean ally. The near-
total absence of United States reaction to such technology transfers
convinced Indian policy-makers that "we cannot expect any
credible US action to prevent cross-border proliferation by two
countries described by Washington as “strategic allies". In
contrast, the United States has taken an offensive position on
India, especially through favoured media outlets such as The
New York Times, "despite New Delhi’s total prevention of the
proliferation of strategic technology to other countries", said a
cabinet source, who added that "it is clear that by the time the
Clinton administration wakes up to the danger posed by the
China-Pakistan-North Korean axis, it will be too late for India,
unless we perfect our own deterrent".

Analysts believe that the policy of nuclear restraint followed
by India has encouraged both China and Pakistan to step up
their covert war against India. Islamabad has backed organisations
active in the terror campaign in Kashmir. China has given help
to insurgents in the North-east, and has provided logistical
support to terrorist groups operating within Bangladesh,
Myanmar and Thailand. "Enough is enough. It takes two hands
to clap, but only one to molest. Thus far, India’s restraint has
been met 'only by increased anti-India activities", said a high-
level policy-maker.

"Given that universal nuclear disarmament is utopian, and
that China is merrily proliferating, there was no option but to
take steps to perfect our deterrent", said a military source. He
added that "India being a full democracy, is much more
responsible than China or even Russia, where government
authority has ceased to exist in most sectors. Pakistan, using
money from its friends, is shopping for scientists and materials
to become a nuclear power. Under the circumstances, India was
left with no option but to resume testing", said a top policy-
maker, who added that "our scientists informed us that a
minimum number of tests was needed to ensure safety, especially
as the United States has banned all safety technologies to us since

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