Wednesday, May 18, 2022
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"No more tests are planned"

As domestic jubilation continued unabated and international criticism mounted against the Pokhran tests, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told Outlook on Saturday afternoon that his government would not conduct any more nuclear tests. Decl

"No more tests are planned"
The government in its National Agenda had promised a strategic defence review before inducting nuclear weapons. Why was this not done?

There was no such promise in the National Agenda.(Outlook: Point 26 of the National Agenda for Governance released by the prime minister on March 18 states: "We will establish a National Security Council to analyse the military, economic and political threats to the nation, also to continuously advise the government. This council will undertake India’s first ever Strategic Defence Review. To ensure the security, territorial integrity and unity of India we will take all necessary steps and exercise all available options. Towards that end we will re-evaluate the nuclear policy and exercise the option to induct nuclear weapons.")

There seems to be some confusion on what we are going to do next. Have we already weaponised, or are we in the process of weaponising?

We are a nuclear weapon power.

What is the situation regarding more tests? Are there going to be more tests or is the programme over?

No more tests are planned.

The government says that it is prepared to sign the CTBT, but it wants to renegotiate the treaty. What clauses are acceptable to the government and which clauses does the government want to renegotiate? And what about the option mentioned by some observers that India can sign the CTBT as it exists after registering its reservations?

This is a matter of negotiation. We will not disclose our position in advance.

Traditionally, there has been a consensus in India on nuclear policy matters. That consensus seems to have broken down with certain political parties opposing the timing of the tests.

The people of India are wholeheartedly behind

the government on this matter.

Do you think a nuclear arms race has been started in the subcontinent?


Do you think the summit meeting between you and Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif would be useful at this point of time?

We have always stressed that issues are best resolved through dialogue and discussion.

What happens to the foreign secretary-level talks? The Pakistanis say that they are virtually dead.

Pakistan has to respond to our proposals given to them in Dhaka in January this year.

Are you disappointed at US president Bill Clinton’s harsh words at Berlin when he announced the imposition of sanctions? He called the tests a "terrible mistake".

We expected a better understanding of our security interests.

Some of your critics say the government has rushed into the nuclear tests because you had only been in power for 50 days.

This is absolutely untrue. The one and only reason for undertaking the tests was to ensure our security and to let the people of India and the world know that we have a credible deterrent.

India seems completely isolated in the world today. Has the government got a strategy to deal with this? And do you think the current anger in the international community is a passing phase?

Mostly those countries which possess nuclear weapons or enjoy the shade of the nuclear umbrella have criticised us. This is a classic case of double standards. Let them search their hearts and then tell us if we have done anything worse than what they have done for the last 50 years.

What kind of economic price will the country have to pay for the tests? How does the government plan to meet the challenge of sanctions which the US and other countries have imposed?

The sanctions will have a limited impact for a short while.

The Chinese have reacted strongly to our tests; do you think Sino-Indian relations are in for a rough time?

We hope not. After all, the Chinese themselves went for nuclear weapons claiming that they were necessary to ensure their security.

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