TECH TALK TUESDAY – BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

nancy Techie Tues 9-2-97

That’s the sound of India joining Club Nuke.

Are you worried yet? China, Pakistan and Russia are.

Today we reprint the official announcement and find out why neighboring countries are so concerned.

Club Nuke Grows 
reprinted from The Hindu

NEW DELHI, May 11. – India today successfully conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran range in Rajasthan, 24 years after the nation had conducted the first such test.

The dramatic announcement about the three tests, conducted at 1545 hours, was made by the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, at a hurriedly-convened press conference at his residence here.

Mr. Vajpayee, who declined to answer any questions after reading out his 10-line statement, said the tests had been conducted with a “fission device, a low-yield device and a thermonuclear device.”

The measured yields from the tests “are in line with the expected values,” the Prime Minister said.Mr. Vajpayee said measurements had also confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere.

He said the three tests were contained explosions like the experiment conducted in May 1974.

The Prime Minister warmly congratulated the scientists and engineers who carried out these successful tests.

After reading out the statement, he said he would not be replying to any questions on the subject and added the official spokesman would brief the press later.

Later an official statement said India remained committed to a speedy process of nuclear disarmament leading to total and global elimination of nuclear weapons.

The statement said India would be prepared to consider being an adherent to some of the undertakings in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty but “this cannot obviously be done in a vacuum.”

“We would like to reaffirm categoricaly that we will continue to exercise the most stringent control on the export of sensitive technologies, equipment and commodities – specialy those related to weapons of mass destruction,” the statement said.

The Government would like to reiterate its support to efforts to realise the goal of a truly comprehensive international arrangement which would prohibit underground nuclear testing of all weapons as well as related experiments described as sub- critical or hydronuclear, it said.The statement was read out by Mr. Brajesh Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, at a special briefing here.

The statement said these tests had established that India had proven capability for a weaponised nuclear programme.

They also provided a valuable database for design of nuclear weapons of different yields for different applications and different delivery systems, it said.

“These tests provide reassurance to the people of the country that their national security interests are paramount and will be promoted and protected. Succeeding generations of Indians would also rest assured that contemporary technologies associated with nuclear option have been passed on to them in this 50th year of Independence,” the statement said.

It said the tests were expected to carry Indian scientists towards a sound computer simulation capability which might be supported by sub-critical experiments, if considered necessary.

India, however, assured its neighbours that it would be its sincere endeavour to intensify and diversify relations of truthful cooperation for mutual benefit that had existed and deepened over a long period.

For India, as for others the prime need was for peaceful cooperation and economic development, it said. The statement also said India would be happy to participate in the negotiations for the conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament.

`Not against U.S.’

Mr. Mishra clarified that the tests were not directed against the United States which had announced that sanctions might be imposed.

“I hope the U.S would understand that the tests were meant for the security of the people of India,” he said.

Asked what steps the Government had taken to face the sanctions, Mr. Mishra said their information was that the U.S had stated that it was disappointed and they were in touch with the Indian Government for a full clarification.

“We did not inform any Government about our intentions to conduct the tests,” he said in reply to a question.

Replying to another question, he said Government had merely carried out what it had promised in the national agenda that India would have a credible nuclear deterrent.

Mr. Mishra said he did not think that this would affect the relations between India and the U.S.

Asked whether India could now be known as a nuclear power, Mr. Mishra said, “The message is clear that people have a nuclear deterrent.”

The Prime Minister had informed the President, Mr. K. R. Narayanan, late last night about the decision to carry out the tests .

Mr. Vajpayee, who called on the President after his return from a state visit to Peru and Brazil, apprised him of the decision.

The Vice-President, Mr. Krishan Kant, who is in Cairo to attend the G-15 summit, was also informed about the decision to carry out the tests.

Among others who were informed about the decision were the Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani, the Defence Minister, Mr. George Fernandes, the three service chiefs and the Rajasthan Chief Minister, Mr. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

The tests, carried out at a depth of 100 metres in the desert, coincided with the Hindu date of Buddha Poornima when the first test was conducted in the same area 24 years ago.

The code name for the last test conducted in 1974 was ”Buddha is smiling”.

Defence experts said the thermonuclear explosion had placed India next only to the U.S. and Russia in terms of nuclear capability, adding that the country was “left with no other option.”The international reaction to this would invariably be condemnatory in nature, demanding sanctions and imposition of export controls, they said.

“India was finally compelled to join the nuclear club because the international community legitimised nuclear weapons when they indefinitely extended the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” the former Director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), Dr. K. Subrahmanyam, said.

“It will invariably compel the international community, especially the five nuclear powers, to come to terms that elimination of nuclear weapons by all is a priority and agreements like NPT and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) have no relevance,” Dr. Sreedhar of IDSA said.

India had conducted the first Underground test during Indira Gandhi’s regime on May 18, 1974, in the Pokhran area.

India, which has been under constant pressure from the Western powers, particularly the U.S., has always maintained that its nuclear programme was for peaceful purposes.

It refused to sign the NPT, saying that it should be global, non- discriminatory and comprehensive.

The BJP-led coalition Government in its national agenda for governance had pledged to re-evaluate the nuclear policy and exercise the option to induct nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, British scientists said in London the tests measured 4.7 on the Richter scale – the equivalent of a light earthquake.

The British Geological Survey said its equipmenmt had picked up tremors from the tests.

“We calculate a measurement of about 4.7 on the Richter scale at 1013 GMT (1543 IST) near the India-Pakistan border,” a spokesman at the British Geological Survey said.

PM’s statement

The following is the text of the announcement made by the Prime Minister, Mr. A. B. Vajpayee today on the nuclear tests:

Today at 1545 hrs. India conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokhran range. The tests conducted today were with a fission device, a low yield device and a thermonuclear device. The measured yields are in line with expected values. Measurements have also confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. These were contained explosions like the experiment conducted in May 1974. I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who have carried out these successful tests.