|HOME | NEWS | REPORT|
|May 18, 1998||
Fernandes breaks silence on N-tests, repeats charge against ChinaBy a Special Correspondent in Bombay
Defence Minister George Fernandes today stuck by his criticism of China, even as he denied having called the Communist country India's potential enemy number one.
Addressing a public meeting in Bombay on Monday, he said, "I never said China is enemy number one. But, I did say that in my perception of national security, China is enemy number one."
Explaining that he was not the first to focus on the Chinese threat, Fernandes said even Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had, in a letter to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, said China was not only eyeing the Himalayan slopes but also Assam. "So, I am not the first minister to point out this danger," he said.
"Dr B R Ambedkar, too, had mentioned that we cannot trust the Chinese since their army can penetrate the prime minister's office anytime," he added.
Fernandes created a flutter when he produced a report prepared by former home minister, Indrajit Gupta, and two other Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders stating that China was a security danger "in both the long and medium terms."
Fernandes said, "People have described me as an adventurist and irresponsible after my statements, but the series of statements by these learned people proves that China is really the potential threat number one and India needs to review and prepare its defence strategy accordingly."
He also mentioned that former Soviet head, Nikita Khruschev, had told I K Gujral in Moscow that China had nuclear submarines, and he was sure they were not planning to attack Australia. "In 1979, the Chinese had 20 nuclear submarines," Gujral was informed by Khruschev, Fernandes claimed.
Moving to the recent nuclear tests conducted by India, the defence minister said the country was a nuclear weapons state, and expressed readiness to discuss the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
"We are a peace-loving people and are open to talks, but definitely we do not want any sanctions imposed on us."
He, however, claimed that American sanctions will not affect India in any way, except in the matter of defence technology.
"We want all weapons to be eliminated from this world. All the human beings in every country want to live in peace. But it is hypocrisy of the developed world to possess arms and dictate to other countries not to have arms and ammunitions."
He expressed surprise over the statement of the nuclear powers that India was not a nuclear country. "I am shocked, how can these countries state that we are not a nuclear power because we did not test a nuclear bomb before 1967?"
Recalling 1974, when India first exploded tested the nuclear device at Pokhran, Fernandes said, "I was opposed to it. In fact, I was in Tihar jail then because of the railway strike, and had written in my diary that India's bomb will be Indira's end. And exactly the same thing happened. But today, I feel it is necessary for our country to go in for this blast."
INFOTECH | TRAVEL | LIFE/STYLE | FREEDOM | FEEDBACK