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August 10, 1998


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No more Hiroshimas, promises Vajpayee

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said India is committed for harnessing the "peaceful potential of the atom" and said it was ever ready to co-operate with any non-discriminatory treaty aimed at a nuclear test ban, non-proliferation and actual disarmament.

Addressing a huge gathering comprised of personnel from the Atomic Energy Commission, the Department of Atomic Energy and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Bombay, the prime minister said: "No more Hiroshimas is the mantra that the soul of India chants today, and the condemnation of the use of nuclear weapons in World War II voiced by Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders of our freedom movement is as valid today as it was then.

He said India's nuclear technology has amply demonstrated the promise expressed in the phrase "atom for peace and development" and that the nuclear tests on May 11 and 13 has added a new and important dimension to this promise -- "atom for national security".

"India is committed to the goal of universal nuclear disarmament as the main guarantor of world peace and the commitment dates back to India's freedom movement itself," he said.

Vajpayee, who was visiting BARC for the first time after the Pokhran tests, interacted with the scientific community from AEC, DAE and BARC and made it clear that the country's commitment to global peace was total, absolute and undiluted, even though it has exercised the nuclear option for reasons of national security. "Indeed, our status as a nuclear weapon state, we believe, enables us to pursue the goal of speedy nuclear disarmament with greater vigour and success," he asserted.

The prime minister lamented that now it is known that the insistence for collective restraint by a few nations who were sitting on huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons was an inherently unstable proposition. India could not be a party to the perpetuation of an unfair and iniquitous world order, he stated.

Vajpayee deplored the attempts made by some countries to restrict the participation of Indian scientists in international workshops. He said these measures were unjustifiable and futile.

"It is therefore unfortunate that attempts are being made to put unwarranted restrictions on the participation of Indian scientists in international scientific conferences. Other negative measures are also being taken to hinder normal activity of Indian scientists abroad, he said.

Vajpayee also attended an exhibition highlighting the Centre's achievements and released two books, Atomic Energy in India: 50 years, co-authored by C V Sundaram, L V Krishnan and T S Iyengar, andBiodiversity at BARC, Mumbai. He also inaugurated a new radioactive compressor-accelerator at Vashi in New Bombay, for use by the industry.

He said there is a huge potential for international co-operation in the development of the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology. Free exchange of views, free travel and free association is a must for global scientific co-operation, he added.

The prime minister said the main challenge India faced in the nuclear science scenario lay in the energy sector. Energy was a basic human need and the Indian economy and the welfare of the people was closely linked to its availability and affordability.

He said India's per-capita electricity consumption, a reliable index of economic well-being, was among the lowest in the world. The country needed cheap power so that the poorest person was not deprived of electricity, he said, adding that the overall cost of nuclear energy should fall. He expressed hope that the scientific community would meet this challenge successfully.

Having overcome most of the technological challenges, Vajpayee said the Nuclear Power Corporation is ready to grow, but is hampered by a lack of funds.

He said the government was aware of the problem and promised that the long-stalled nuclear power programme would be restarted.


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