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|June 12, 1998||
Jaswant Singh rules out India deploying or using N-weapons
Planning Commission deputy chairman Jaswant Singh has ruled out the possibility of India either deploying or using nuclear weapons. Nor does he see any possibility of a nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan.
In a television interview in Washington last night, he said, "I can't understand any circumstances about India using these nuclear weapons. In today's world they really have a deterrent capability."
He said all that India had done, therefore, was "to acquire control over a strategic autonomy, considering the kind of vacuum that had come into existence in the southern Asian region when you examine the totality of new nuclear security paradigms obtained in the rest of the world."
Elaborating his point, he said, "If you examine the stretch from roughly Vancouver to Vladivostok, you have a kind of a nuclear security paradigm that has come into existence through the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. The Asia-Pacific is covered in part, China is an independent nuclear power in its own right."
"It is only southern Asia and Africa that are out of this protective pattern of security arrangements. Therefore, this, in our assessment and strategic evaluation, is an area uncovered and a vacuum. If we have the kind of neighbourhood that India has, which is extremely troubled, and if we have two declared nuclear weapons powers in our neighbourhood, the basic requirement is to acquire a balancing deterrent capability," he added.
In reply to a question, Jaswant Singh welcomed Pakistan's decision to declare a moratorium on any further nuclear tests. India had volunteered this moratorium soon after the series of tests it had done on May 11, 13.
Asked about the possibility of India signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Singh said, "We have made clear our position that we are ready to engage in a discussion to convert this moratorium into an obligation."
That means you are (only) willing to discuss signing the treaty at this point?
Jaswant Singh:We are willing to discuss the subscription to this treaty. We have some difficulty with (some) provisions of it, which we would like to engage in with the principal interlocutors.
Asked whether Pakistan would deploy nuclear weapons, Jaswant Singh said, "It is really for Pakistan to decide what they wish to do. India's nuclear programme is not focussed on Pakistan. It is a sad and unfortunate reality that Pakistan's programme is Indo-centric," he added.
He, however, said, "We take that into account, we have factored that in and it is not a situation of action and reaction as far as the Indo-Pak nuclear programme is concerned."
In reply to a question about the possibility of India undertaking more missile tests, he said, "Well, when you suggest missile tests, India has not had an intermediate range ballistic missile test for the past, to the best of my knowledge and recollection, three years. "
"It's some of our neighbouring countries that are engaging in development, import, and testing of ballistic missile. If that continues, I cannot foreswear the possibility of the integrated missile development programme of India being called off," he added.
Jaswant Singh said India was ready to talk to Pakistan on any issue at any date, at any level, at any place in India or Pakistan, including on the subject of Kashmir.
He disagreed with Pakistan Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan's view about the inevitability of India-Pakistan war. "To prejudge even before the talks have started is, to my mind, a bit disappointing, and thereafter for the minister of external affairs of Pakistan to state that he fears a nuclear confrontation is really to overstate the issue," he added.
Asked whether India looked at China, even more than Pakistan, with some trepidation Jaswant Singh said, ''We don't look at anyone with trepidation."
He said, ''These are issues which are objective realities on the ground, it is a fact that Tibet, which is a neighbouring area to India, was really militarised in the 1950s resulting in the Dalai Lama having to flee Tibet, seek shelter and refuge in India. Ever since, there has been a border conflict with the People's Republic of China in 1962, we have a situation of a border dispute, '' he added.
''A very large part of India is claimed by China, they are sitting on that territory, there is an unsettled border. These are areas of concern, not of trepidation. About these area of concern, we have engaged with the People's Republic of China meaningfully and seriously over the past some years and that process of engagement and discussion shall continue.''
''Our approach to China is not of trepidation. These are two great civilisations. They do not approach each other with anxiety or trepidation,'' he added.
Referring to criticism of India's nuclear tests by several world leaders, including US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, he said, ''I'm not so much surprised as disappointed. I am disappointed not because of the sentiment that the distinguished secretary of state has expressed, I'm disappointed really by the unrestrained language employed.''
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