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|May 11, 1998||
'We have not mentioned the word peaceful so far'
Dr P K Iyengar
It is a good thing that we have gone in for this explosion, this was a long overdue. Probably, we could have done so much earlier but the earlier governments were not in favour of doing it.
Today, the world will know India has the capability to make nuclear weapons, and that it is a reality. Especially the Pakistanis, who test-fired the Ghauri missile last month and which is of no real value.
As far as international implications are concerned, I think only five developed countries will object to it, since they have always been pressing India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
It is hypocrisy on their part. On one hand they do not want to lose their power, and on the other they tell a country like India to sign these treaties.
The difference between the 1974 Pokhran test and today's explosions is that these are of a different nature. At the time of Pokhran, we said it was for peaceful purposes. But now we have not mentioned the word peaceful so far. Perhaps the BJP government's national agenda mentions it.
The intention of these explosions seems to verify the design of the devices in relation to the expected yield of the weapon.
There were three devices: Firstly, the fission bomb -- that is one which depends entirely upon the fission of plutonium or uranium 235, the yield dependent upon the amount of mass use and the efficiency with which the fission device works. Secondly, the low yield nuclear device may be specifically designed to provide field weapons of the order of a kilo tonne, and thirdly the thermo-nuclear device in which the major part of the yield comes from the isotopes of hydrogen using fusion reaction. This is a hydrogen bomb.
I cannot say when these explosions can be converted into weapons but I feel when you put a device underground for a test, it has to be as safe and the engineers must be as good as they would be for an actual weapon.
Dr P K Iyengar, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, spoke to Syed Firdaus Ashraf. Dr Iyengar will discuss India's decision to explode a nuclear device on the Rediff Chat on May 12 at 2000 hours IST (1030 hours EST).
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