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|July 28, 1998||
Only scientists associated with weapons research targetted: US
The Clinton administration has clarified it is only targetting those Indian scientists who are associated with organised in nuclear weapons or missile development programmes in India.
''It is not our policy to expel Indian scientists per se,'' said US State Department spokesperson James Rubin yesterday.
Replying to questions pertaining to the expulsion of seven Indian scientists from the United States last week, he said that in some cases research funding for scientists had been terminated, ''which means that the basis for their immigration status no longer exists.''
He said the US had an ''extensive and fruitful'' programme of co-operation with India for decades. Much of this was continuing. "But following India's decision to test nuclear weapons, we are undertaking a thorough review of our science and technology relationship in order to ensure that our co-operation does not in any way go against the grain of our proliferation concerns.
''There will be cases in which we will determine that continuation of our association with a particular Indian institution engaged in nuclear weapons or missile research is inappropriate,'' Rubin remarked.
To drive his point home, he said the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a Washington-based US government entity, had reported to the state department that it had terminated the contracts of seven Indian researchers affiliated with organisations such as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the Indian Institute of Technology and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
This, though, flies in the face of what NIST spokesperson Michael Newman said, that the state department had asked for a list of projects with which researchers from Indian institutions were associated, and had itself decided who should leave the country. This decision, Newman said, was conveyed to the NIST, which is run by the commerce department.
Rubin said, ''Because of the involvement of certain institutions with India's nuclear weapons or missile programmes, we deem it inappropriate for them to participate in US-funded research, and that has an effect on their immigration status. It is more the function of the institution that they are affiliated with in India than the particular programme or scientist involved here.''
Rubin said, ''The kind of review that we're doing with respect to the follow-up to the sanctions affects both of those countries (India and Pakistan) that conducted nuclear explosions.''
He said the purpose of the change in policy was ''to deal with institutions that are involved with India's programmes of concern to US nuclear weapons and missile programmes.
''Those institutions that are integrally significantly involved in that process, when their affiliated scientists come to the United States to pursue research, we have reacted by cutting off certain funding for those projects, and that has affected their ability to stay in the United States,'' he said. He added that only those individuals were affected who were "affiliated with institutions we believe are helping India to make some very wrong decisions in the area of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles''.
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