May 12, 1998
With the conduct of three nuclear tests of different yields in Pokharan India has gone nuclear. Briefing media persons in New Delhi last evening, the principal secretary to the Prime Minister, Brijesh Mishra said India now has a credible nuclear deterrent. These tests he said have established the country's proven capability for a weaponised nuclear programme.
Earlier, at a hurriedly called press conference at his residence the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced India's conduct of three underground nuclear tests. The Prime Minister said that monitoring after the tests has confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity.
About the need for carrying out these nuclear tests Brijesh Mishra said the nuclear environment in India's neighbourhood is very dangerous and it was causing deep concern to the government. He said these tests will assure the people that national security interests are paramount and will be promoted and protected. These tests will also provide data useful in the design of nuclear weapons of different yields and applications and for different delivery systems. These will also help scientists towards a computer simulated capability which he said may be supported by sub-critical experiments if necessary.
Despite these tests, he reiterated India's support to efforts to realise the goal of a truly comprehensive international arrangement to prohibit underground nuclear tests of all weapons. He said India would be prepared to accept some of the undertakings in the Comprehensive Tests Ban Treaty but it would depend on several reciprocal activities. Mr. Mishra affirmed that India would continue to exercise stringent control on the export of sensitive technologies, equipment and commodities related to weapons of mass destruction. He said we expect the recognition of this policy by the international community.
Mr. Mishra said that India is committed to the process of nuclear disarmament and global elimination of nuclear weapons. He said India's adherence to the chemical weapons convention and biologicals weapons convention is a proof of its commitment to non-discriminatory and verifiable global disarmament regime.
Responding to a question regarding possible sanctions against India, Mr. Mishra said all these aspects have been taken into consideration. About the US reaction, Mr. Mishra said India has as much right to protect its national interests as the United States has the right to protect its own national interests. He expressed the hope that the USA will understand India's security concerns.
Opposition parties have generally welcomed the Pokharan nuclear tests as demonstration of India's technological advancement. Congress General Secretary Mr. Madhavrao Scindia said the tests were the culmination of the process initiated by Indira Gandhi in 1974.
United Front spokesman Jaipal Reddy said with the formal tests, India has become a dejure nuclear weapon state from being a de facto nuclear weapon state. Former Prime Minister, Mr. I. K. Gujral said India has proved that it is second to none in the area of high technology. Welcoming the tests, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah said the country needed to demonstrate its defence capabilities.
Rajasthan Chief Minister, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat has described it as a quantum leap forward in India's peaceful nuclear programme. The former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. P. K. Iyengar said that India has demonstrated the capability to design a whole range of nuclear bombs qualifying it to become a member of nuclear weapon states from a member of a nuclear club. According to the nuclear scientist, Mr. Raja Ramanna the successful nuclear tests is a great advance in the country's nuclear capabilities.
The nuclear tests have evoked strong reactions abroad. The UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan has expressed deep regret. In a statement in New York he called for maximum restraint and urged all governments to support measures accelerating nuclear disarmament and end to all nuclear tests.
Washington has expressed deep disappointment at India's nuclear tests. Reacting to the development, the White House spokesman Mr. Mike McCurry said the United States would raise its concern directly with the Vajpayee government. Washington would also contact Pakistan to urge restraint in the sub-continent.
Expressing its dismay at the developments, Britain has summoned an emergency meeting of the European Union political committee today to look into what it called implications of the exercise. Britain is the President of the European Union.
Pakistan has called for international sanctions against India for conducting the tests. The Pakistan foreign minister, Gohar Ayub Khan affirmed to reserve its rights to take all appropriate steps to safeguard its security.
Russia says the nuclear tests by India will have no effect on Indo-Russian defence cooperation.
France, Australia, Finland and Sweden have expressed concern about the tests while Germany has condemned it. Canada has also expressed its disappointment on the issue.
The Japanese Prime Minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto says he plans to take the initiative to propose some action against India during the Birmingham summit of the leaders of the G-7 countries this weekend
The President K.R. Narayanan said in the successful testing of three nuclear devices, Indian science has scored yet another achievement. Calling it a major breakthrough in the realm of national security the President extended his felicitations to all the scientists and technologists who made it possible.
Mr. Narayanan said, India has always stood and worked for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons and this achievement will enable us to make a more effective contribution to the objective of complete and comprehensive disarmament and a non-discriminatory and more equal world order.
The BJP has congratulated the government scientists and engineers for the tests. In a statement in New Delhi, the party's president, Mr Kushabhau Thakre said that indicates, the government's commitment to uphold the nation's security.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that India is entitled to conduct nuclear test. An IAEA spokesman told Reuters in Vienna that India cannot be accused of breaking any promises because it has not made any promises.