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Dr Ramanna's 'memorable' meeting
with Saddam Hussein
M D Riti in Bangalore |
March 21, 2003 20:20 IST
Internationally renowned nuclear physicist Raja Ramanna is among those who have met Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but is not unduly keen to recollect the encounter.
The former member of Parliament met Hussein in Iraq in 1978.
Dr Ramanna, who once headed the Atomic Energy Commission, reluctantly revealed that the meeting took place at the invitation of the Iraqi leader.
Hussein apparently invited Ramanna as he wanted to enlist the help of India's premier scientist to develop Iraq's nuclear prowess.
When he got there, Ramanna was given a grand tour of Iraq's nuclear facilities. Later, Hussein made an offer to the scientist to work with him and help make Iraq a nuclear power to reckon with.
"Ramanna was quite horrified," recalls a good friend of the scientist. "He never would have wanted to help a man like Saddam Hussein develop his nuclear arsenal or build an atom bomb."
"I don't want to dwell upon that meeting now," Ramanna told rediff.com. "Especially now."
"I just spent a few hours in Baghdad, nothing more. I barely said hello to Saddam Hussein. I certainly did not discuss Iraq's nuclear options with him."
Sources close to him reveal that Ramanna made his opinion very clear and then got out of Iraq as quickly as he could.
Ramanna points out that India never aimed to be a major nuclear power player nor was it in a race to make an atom bomb.
"After the first nuclear test in Pokhran, India had been at the threshold of being a nuclear power," Ramanna says.
"In the two decades after that test, India did not test or deploy nuclear weapons nor did it transfer nuclear technology or train people from other countries."
Ramanna, who now lives in his home town Bangalore, is director emeritus of the National Institute of Advanced Studies attached to the Indian Institute of Science.