War Threats from Pakistan Prompted India's Nuclear Tests
Indian conducted a series of nuclear tests in May 1998 after reports alleged Pakistan was preparing for war, a private TV network quoted the country's national security advisor as saying on Friday.
Brajesh Mishra told Star TV that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who assumed office on March 19, 1998, gave the green light for the tests after reports alleging Pakistan was preparing for war.
"Well, actually discussions on the nuclear policy took place two weeks or so after the prime minister took oath and we left it at that," Mishra said in a chat show to be broadcast on Sunday.
"Then came ... all the claims from the other side of a war," he told Star, referring to Pakistani claims at the time that India was preparing for war.
"And at that point, the prime minister said, OK, let's go ahead," Star said, quoting Mishra in an advance copy of his interview.
The national security advisor said he was part of India's secret test plans "right from the word go" and added some cabinet ministers perhaps also knew of the planned blasts.
The series of five tests took even the US military by surprise.
India on May 11 and 13, 1998 conducted the tests and said one of the explosions involved a thermo-nuclear device several times more powerful than the bomb which razed the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II.
Pakistan retaliated with similar blasts and the tit-for-tat nuclear tests drew sweeping US-led economic sanctions against the two South Asian neighbors.
Mishra in his interview with Star TV said the nuclear tests were also aimed at improving India's international profile.
"Yes, I have always felt that you cannot in today's world be counted for something without going nuclear," Mishra was quoted as saying.
Mishra also argued that India refuses to endorse the Non-Proliferation Treaty because it sees it as a document of "nuclear apartheid."
India despite being pressured by the United States refuses to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, saying the global pact must contain a time frame for global disarmament and a ban on computer-simulated atomic tests.
Mishra said he personally favored nuclear weapons status for India as far back as 1987 when he joined Vajpayee's Hindu nationalist BJP party.
"If I had ever anything to do with the government, going nuclear would be the first priority," he said, recounting his decision to join the BJP as a party functionary 13 years ago -- NEW DELHI (AFP)
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