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|May 30, 1998||
India will not go back on moratoriumTara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
India today said one more nuclear test conducted by Pakistan did not pose any new threat to this country and that New Delhi would continue with its voluntary moratorium on further nuclear tests.
''It was anticipated,'' an external affairs ministry spokesman said, reacting to the sixth nuclear test conducted by Pakistan earlier today.
Saturday's nuclear test by Pakistan evoked no concern even in the defence ministry with officials pointing out -- as indicated by Union Defence Minister George Fernandes -- that the country's security concerns were being attended to and nothing was being left to chance.
Reacting to Islamabad's latest nuclear test in the Chagai hills region in Baluchistan, the defence ministry officials recalled Fernandes's views in a television interview. He had emphasised that India's declaration of a moratorium on further nuclear tests did not mean that it would affect its nuclear weaponisation.
He added that underground tests had provided the scientists with sufficient material to complete the weaponisation programme, adding that without weaponisation the whole question of being a nuclear weapon state did not make any sense.
Asked whether Fernandes's contention meant that India would now equip the armed forces with nuclear weapons, the defence ministry officials declined to comment.
They, however, pointed out that, unlike Pakistan, India's nuclear programme was only for peaceful purposes and is intended to provide deterrence. They declined to elaborate.
Others in the defence ministry appeared to be more fortnight with a senior official claiming that India could not afford to ignore the latest developments in the neighbouring countries.
Spelling out what he meant, the senior official said, ''While I did not want to create any war hysteria, any misadventure would be dealt with sternly."
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Jaswant Singh pointed out, ''While Pakistan's nuclear programme is India-specific, the Indian programme has been driven by the endangered security scenario in South Asia.''
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, addressing a youth rally earlier today, reiterated that India's nuclear programme was not for any aggressive purposes but to take care of the country's security needs.
However, external affairs ministry officials were critical that the five nuclear powers in the United Nations Security Council had treated Pakistan with "kid gloves".
They pointed out how China was reluctant to criticise the Pakistani tests and this showed the Beijing-Islamabad missile and nuclear nexus.
The international community, however, condemned Pakistan for conducting the tests.
It is understood that Russia has been apprised by New Delhi of the latest regional security situation and the Moscow-New Delhi strategic partnership has taken stock of the developments.
Additional reportage: UNI
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