Thursday, April 3, 2008

PV Narsimha Rao and the Bomb

No doubt that the father of Modern India is PV Narasimha Rao (PVN). One of his best kept secrets was the 1994 incident where US detected Indian test preperations for nuclear test. What happened then? PVN when interviewed said that he will carry the secret to his grave.. which he did.

Then came this report. It really helped put the pieces togther.

Nuclear Scientist Krishnan Santhanam told Times Now TV that the plans to explode the bomb at Pokhran was put on "hold" due to apparent US pressure.

PVN had denied it, he had said that it was not the US pressure but national interest was the reason. here is the other version

Bhuvnesh Chaturvedi, who was the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office at the time of the 1994 nuke plan, told Times Now that the government was indeed planning for a nuke test, but cited domestic reasons for its deferment.

"We had the capacity to do it, but we did not do it, because the elections were near. We did not want the successive government to bear the brunt. If the government would have continued in power, we could have done it," Chaturvedi said.

Bhuvnesh Chaturvedi seems to be telling the truth. Because as per former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who ordered the nuclear tests
an emotional Vajpayee said when he assumed the Prime Minister's office in 1996 (the 13-day stint), he received a paper from his predecessor urging him to continue the country's nuclear programme.

Rao had asked me not to make it public; but today when he is dead and gone, I wish to set records straight.

In typical Vajpayee fashion, the former Prime Minister went on: Rao told me that the bomb is ready. I exploded it. I did not miss the opportunity.

Its worth quoting C. RAJA MOHAN in his article Portrait of Rao as N-architect

Rao’s mandate to his foreign secretary J.N. Dixit (1991-94) was to buy time and space for India’s bomb programme.

Together Rao and Dixit, now the national security adviser, devised a variety of diplomatic strategems to resist international pressures without confronting the US head-on and thus gained valuable time for Indian scientists to come up with a credible programme of nuclear tests, including the Hydrogen bomb.

The appointed day arrived in mid-December 1995. The nuclear devices were already put into the L-shaped hole dug for the purpose in Pokhran desert. The Ministries of External Affairs and Finance had estimated of the costs of US sanctions that would have followed. The officer in the MEA specialising in the nuclear issue had a prepared statement in his drawer justifying India’s decision.

As US satellite pictures began to show Indian preparations for the test, the New York Times broke the story about India’s plans to test on December 15. After two days, India finally declared it had no intention to test.Had Rao tested in 1995, India’s political history might have been different. With elections due in mid-1996, the nuclear card could have possibly returned Rao to power. Yet, inexplicably Rao chose not to. Some say he succumbed to US pressure. Others say he was concerned about Pakistan’s reaction and the economic consequences.

Nuclear ambivalence summed the man that Rao was — laying foundations for the transformation of India’s security, foreign and economic policies, but holding back at key moments.

A million salutes to you Mr. PV Narasimha Rao

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