The following is a transcript
of an interview between
Good Morning America Anchor
Lisa McRee and
India’s Ambassador to the
United States, Naresh Chandra
N E W Y O R K, May 14 —
Lisa McRee: We continue now with more on India’s underground nuclear
tests which were conducted yesterday and Monday. And the question remains,
why did India risk international outrage and economic sanctions? And how
will its actions affect strained relations with Pakistan and China who
may decide to retaliate? Joining us now from Washington is the Indian
ambassador to the U.S., Naresh Chandra.
Lisa McRee: Good morning, Mr. Ambassador. Thanks for being with us.
Ambassador Naresh Chandra: Good morning.
Lisa McRee: The first question is why?
Ambassador Naresh Chandra: It’s become a national security imperative.
We analyze the security scenario in our neighborhood and came to the conclusion
that our nuclear option which had been getting eroded in terms of
effectiveness and credibility needed to be demonstrated again with the
updated technology that we had.
Lisa McRee: What did China or Pakistan do that made you feel threatened?
Ambassador Naresh Chandra: Well, you see, we had evidence of growing
military relationship which was nuclear weapons technology and also missile
development. And this was creating a situation where we felt that we were
being treated as a power of no military consequence.
Lisa McRee: President Clinton actually said that you conducted the tests
because India feels it is “underappreciated in the world as a great power.”
What’s your response to that comment?
Ambassador Naresh Chandra: Well, it’s partially true. The fact remains
that in the arrangements which are contemplated for this year, the role
that India can play for peace and tranquillity is not fully appreciated.
We thought if the present asymmetry was allowed to persist and widen,
it would not be good for the peace and stability. Apparently it
has boosted the self-esteem and patriotism of the Indian people who
have given overwhelming support. They’re even celebrating in the streets
this latest round of nuclear tests.
Lisa McRee: Well, the Indians may react differently when the sanctions
take effect. This could cost you millions and millions of dollars. Do you
think your people are going to be less supportive of the testing program
when they start to feel it on their dinner tables and in their pocketbooks?
Ambassador Naresh Chandra: Well, I think as the Indian people have
demonstrated that any strong-armed measures just don’t work. We have, of
course, had unnecessary pain. We hope to that turn into dialogue and see
whether implementation of the sanctions can be refined or eventually
Lisa McRee: You’re going to try to get out of the sanctions?
Ambassador Naresh Chandra: Well, I suppose that’s the natural thing
to do because we will convince and we are sure that we will convince
that what we have done is in the security interest and ultimately it will
enhance U.S. interests in that area as well.
Lisa McRee: The president says you’ve created dangerous new instability
in the region. Do you acknowledge that you might have started or
at least fueled an arms race in your area?
Ambassador Naresh Chandra: Well, we have brought about a change. Whether
it is leading to instability or not, events will show. Our firm conviction
is that if it is strong and secure, India is a factor for peace. If we
leave a substantial gap in our defense preparedness, that is a cause of
Lisa McRee: Ambassador, last question, will you test again and when?
Ambassador Naresh Chandra: Well, my government has announced that this
series of tests is complete and that we would like to enter into dialogue
to join and assume the undertaking of the Test Ban Treaty.
Lisa McRee: Ambassador Chandra say India may enter into the Test Ban
Treaty talks. They refused to sign them in 1996. They wanted to catch up
before they signed.