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|June 17, 1998||
Rigid sanctions will prove costly to US: VajpayeeC K Arora in Washington
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee hinted at possible Indian retaliation in the event the United States imposed rigorous economic sanctions.
Speaking to the Washington Post -- his first interview to an American newspaper after assuming office this March -- Vajpayee dubbed the US sanctions as unjustified and said, ''If the sanctions declared by some countries are indeed imposed, India will have no option but to take measures that minimise their impact on the Indian economy.
''It would be a pity," Vajpayee added, underlining his meaning, "if economic co-operation between India and the United States were to be adversley affected, both countries would stand to lose a lot.''
Interestingly, Vajpayee's written responses to the Post's questions were deliberately delayed until after the G-8 (group of industrialised nations) last week announced a joint plan to delay World Bank and other multilateral loans to India and Pakistan.
Saying that India is now "a nuclear weapons state,'' Vajpayee said the country did not, however, intend to enter into a ruinous nuclear programme.
Saying that India now has a "credible nuclear deterrent'', he added: "we have no intention, however, of engaging in a nuclear arms race and building huge arsenals, as we have seen other nuclear weapons states do, because their doctrines were predicated on nuclear war.''
Vajpayee's statement comes at a time when the US and other nuclear powers have been attempting to persuade India and Pakistan to end nuclear testing and refrain from building and inducting nuclear weapons.
''India's nuclear doctrine is qualitatively different from that of other nuclear weapons states,'' Vajpayee told the American newspaper. "Therefore, we do not need to, or intend to, replicate the kind of command and control structures which they requried. Our approach is to have a credible deterrent, which should prevent the use of these weapons.''
Vajpayee said that at least in part, India had carried out its tests in order to prod the five nuclear states -- the US, Russia, China, Britain and France -- to agree to disarm. ''That was one of our main reasons: we thought that if there is nuclear disarmament, it will make the world a much better place to live in,'' he said, adding, ''It will also provide security for us.''
He laid the burden of initiating total disarmament squarely on the P-5, which he pointed out have thus far resisted all moves in that direction. Asked about the partial disarmament by the US and Russia under the START agreements, the Indian premier dismissed those reductions in nuclear weaponry as "inadequate".
''Something more needs to be done... A pledge to destroy all nuclear weapons within a definite time frame. We know that cannot be done tomorrow. It will take time. Already, so many years have passed. Let the initative come from the nuclear weapon states,'' Vajpayee said.
Referring to the South Asian region, Vajpayee said India's neighbours should feel secure, since India has pledged not to use nuclear weapons first. Asked why a similar offer by China made in 1964 did not satisfy his government, he said, ''In spite of that offer, we felt we should have our own deterrent.''
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