India to keep N-option open
India will keep its nuclear option open till all nuclear weapons are eliminated, the defence ministry said in its annual report.
The ministry's report for 1996-97 made available on Wednesday said those who had been seeking to impose restraints on India have themselves continued their nuclear weapons and missile research programmes.
"The indigenous development of missile capability by India is in response to the evolving security environment… China has supplied M-11 missiles to Pakistan and is aiding it with technology and manpower as well in the development of its indigenous missile programme," it said, adding there were also "credible" reports about China continuing to assist Pakistan in its clandestine nuclear weapons programme.
Contrary to the international trend, the defence ministry says the area around India had been characterised by continued high spending on defence. It pointed out the progress China had made in its nuclear arsenal and missile capabilities and the activities of Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence directorate.
"Upgradation of China's logistic capabilities all along the India-China border for strengthened air operations has to be noted. China's posture in the South China Sea has implications for the region," the ministry said, adding that China's growing defence relations with Myanmar needed to be carefully watched, considering Myanmar’s geo-strategic location.
Pakistan's ISI, it said, continued to plan and coordinate terrorist activities in Kashmir and in the North-East. Some of these groups in the North-East have clandestinely set up camps in some neighbouring countries, notably Myanmar.
"These groups are receiving funds, training, arms and ammunition from Pakistan… to destablise the North-East region," it said, adding that in Kashmir, "having failed to thwart and sabotage elections, the ISI is now attempting to forge a common understanding amongst various militant groups."
It said the supply of a package of sophisticated US arms to Pakistan this year, made possible by the waiver of the Pressler amendment despite Pakistan's declared nuclear weapons status, was a negative development for peace in the region.
During the second meeting of the Indo-US defence policy group in October, the two sides had agreed on an action plan within which to promote mutual co-operation in high priority areas, and to define potential areas for future joint ventures in the field of defence research and production.
The defence ministry says it hopes for a political settlement in Sri Lanka, but is determined to prevent the conflict from spilling into India.
With the improvement in relations with Nepal, anti-national elements operating clandestinely in these countries were now facing renewed pressure from the two governments, it said.
Afghanistan, the ministry said, was once again at risk of being embroiled in regional and international power games. India strongly opposes such prospects and continues to closely follow events in Afghanistan having a bearing on its national security. The report claimed Pakistan was also meddling in affairs there.
Meanwhile, the availability of spares for Russian equipment had improved and the contracting and delivery process had been streamlined, the ministry said.
A major acquisition contract was concluded with Russia in November for the supply of 40 SU-30 aircraft for the IAF, with provisions for subsequent manufacture in India.