BLITZER: All right, Mr. Ambassador in Washington, you heard
Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, accuse
your government of engaging in a campaign of deceit in recent
weeks, to mislead the world about your nuclear intentions. How do
you respond to that?
NARESH CHANDRA, INDIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE
U.S.: Well, I think the facts are well-known, and I think the facts
are, as are known to everybody, do not fit this inference.
It is regrettable and unfortunate that such a statement could be
made. We have been having a strategic dialogue with our friends in
the U.S., and it had the blessings of Mr. Sandy Berger, as well as
Mr. Strobe Talbott. It was very ably carried forward by both sides.
And at every exchange it was made absolutely clear that the
exercise of the nuclear option is non-negotiable.
In fact, one of the rules which were decided upon before we
engaged in this dialogue was that no side will push its agenda on the
other side. And I don't think, while the policy of the United States
was very ably and clearly enunciated by the U.S. interlocutors, there
was no demand for a commitment from the Indian side except to
say that what the consequences would be. And I don't think the
Indian side ever misled the U.S. side.
BLITZER: Well, what would happen if the Pakistani government
now goes ahead with a nuclear test of its own? What would be the
reaction from India?
CHANDRA: Well, it is for Pakistan to decide what its security
needs are. But what I wish to say is that our test should not be
viewed as aimed at Pakistan. We have been noticing a substantial
gap in our defense preparedness, and this situation prevailing in our
neighborhood made it absolutely essential for us to exercise the
nuclear option at this time.
It had been under deliberation for a long time. And successive
governments had kept the exercise of the nuclear option at a feasible
and credible level.
BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, is your government, ready to renounce
any additional nuclear tests, and to sign, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty?
CHANDRA: The position on that has already been clarified, by my
government. That we want to move towards signing of a document,
or undertakings contained in the CTBT, and for that a dialogue has
already been proposed. But let me make some comments on what
has been stated.
One is the prime minister of the statement has just been described
totally out of context. He made it very plain, that it is not a offensive
weapon, and he is not going to use it. He said that if the security
scenario so requires he will not hesitate to use it in self defense. That
is quite a different thing.
The second point is that this so-called Hindu fundamentalism we
have to understand that Hindu and fundamentalism is a contradiction
in terms, and I think words like India decided to break (ph) the
Babri (ph) mosque (ph) is plain wrong. It was the work of a handful
of people, who are being prosecuted.
And the overwhelming majority of Indians at that time had criticized
the destruction. To say India decided to break the mosque (ph) is
BLITZER: All right.
CHANDRA: Now, to come to the present situation, we feel that
instead of looking at it in aggressive terms and clash of interests,
what is more important is to engage in a dialogue, and see how the
issue is to be resolved because in our view, allowing a dangerous
asymmetry to persist in this region was not conducive to peace and
stability of South Asia.
Thanks so much for joining us on LATE EDITION.