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US critic of Indian nuclear programme dead

Source: PTI
July 05, 2008 00:22 IST
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Jesse Helms, a veteran conservative Republican US senator who opposed a nuclear India and took the Clinton administration to task for its failure to detect New Delhi's nuclear tests in 1998, died on Friday. He was 86.

Helms died at 1:15 am in Raleigh, North Carolina, a notice on the Website of the Jesse Helms Centre, an organisation that promotes his legacy, said.

As chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Helms had expressed 'astonishment' over the Indian nuclear tests in May, 1998.

"I am astonished that the Indian government was able to catch the US intelligence capability sound asleep at the switch, revealing the stark reality that the Clinton Administration's six-year cozying up to India has been a foolhardy and perilous substitute for common sense," Helms had said in a curt statement on May 13, 1998.

"By conducting five nuclear tests, India has made a major miscalculation, not merely about the United States, but about India's own capability. I have tried to be a friend to India. But, as long as there is breath in me, I will never support the lifting of the Glenn amendment sanctions on India unless they abandon all nuclear ambitions," he had said, while expressing his understanding on Pakistan's position after the Indian nuclear tests.

He had also called for 'vigorous international sanctions against India to be lifted only after India's nuclear programme has been rolled back'.

Helms retired in 2003 after five terms in the US Senate.

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