Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, August 27, 2009
A former top official who coordinated India’s nuclear weapons programme has cautioned that India should not be “railroaded” into signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as the 1998 Pokhran tests were not sufficient from the security point of view.
“We can’t get into a stampede to sign CTBT. We should conduct more nuclear tests which are necessary from the point of view of security,” K Santhanam told IANS in New Delhi.
“We should not get railroaded into signing the CTBT,” Santhanam said when asked about reports of the US pressuring India to sign the CTBT and fresh efforts by the Obama administration to revive non-proliferation activism.
Santhanam, a former official with the Defence Research and Development Organisation, said that the thermonuclear or hydrogen bomb tests, the first and most powerful of the three tests conducted on May 11, 1998 – did not produce the desired yield.
Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) chief R Chidambaram is on record as saying that the bombs yield was 45 kilotons (45,000 tonnes of conventional explosive).
Santhanam’s remarks are set to create a flutter in the non-proliferation establishment in the US and may raise doubts about the future of the India-US nuclear deal which will unravel if New Delhi were to test again.
Santhanam’s assessment is set to bolster India’s opposition to signing the CTBT – an issue that may figure in the discussions when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh goes to the US in November. India has opposed CTBT on grounds that it is discriminatory and tends to divide the world into the nuclear haves and have-nots.