News

This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts
ABC, May 17, 1998

DONALDSON : Joining us now is Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the senior senator from the great state of New York, former ambassador to India.

DONALDSON : Ambassador Richardson has just suggested that India misled us and the world, perhaps, about the fact that she was about to test nuclear devices. Do you agree?

MOYNIHAN : Sam, our best understanding is that this was a decision made by four people of the BJP, the ruling—the head of the coalition government, that the career people were not brought in, the other members of the government were not brought in. The people who said we’re going to have a strategic review first didn’t know the decision was made. Now, on April 3, Sharif—Prime Minister Sharif and his foreign minister in Islamabad wrote to the president and secretary of state to say that there’s going to be an Indian test, and then three days later they tested that Ghauri missile—which, incidentally, is a North Korean missile. And it got there through China. But may I just say, there’s—what are we surprised about?

DONALDSON : Now, you have said that if you read The New York Times, you would have known that India was about to test weapons.

MOYNIHAN : Well, here’s the political—the election manifesto of the BJP party. “The BJP rejects the notion of nuclear apartheid and will actively oppose attempts to impose a hegemonistic nuclear regime. We will not be dictated to by anybody in matters of security and in the exercise of the nuclear option.” That’s plain English.

DONALDSON : All right. Do you approve of a get-tough policy with India?

MOYNIHAN : I think it’s time we recognized that they are a country of a billion people and they are not going to be treated as a post-colonial power struggling along that doesn’t have—can’t have the same rights as China. Now, I—I was asked to go in to see the prime minister, Indira Gandhi, in 1974, after they had set off their, quote, “peaceful nuclear explosion.” Because that’s what it was. And I said to her, look, you know, gosh, what are you going to do now, because in 25 years’ time the Pakistanis are going to have a bomb and these nuclear weapons are great equalizers, and—and here you were number one in South Asia, and the next thing you’re going to be facing an enemy just as powerful as you?

She said—and I quote,—That if a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty”—that term was in use then—“were”—and I’ll quote—“proposed which brought everybody in and was not discriminatory, then India would be for it.”

ROBERTS : Well, you have made the point, on the Senate floor this week, that others have tested and then signed the treaty.

MOYNIHAN : France did and China did.

ROBERTS : So is—is it your view that that’s what India is doing here, that they are...

MOYNIHAN : That’s what they should be encouraged to do, Cokie, to say: I see. You’re just doing what the French did, or the Chinese did. Fine now, can we all get together on this basis? Because discrimination is so important to them.

And remember, you have in New Delhi what in many ways is the first Hindu government in India in a thousand years. That Ghauri missile is named for a Moslem prince who went down the Sindh and so forth chopping heads off Hindus, and they have had enough of that.

ROBERTS : So—so you say that they should be encouraged to sign on to the treaty, but...

MOYNIHAN : Be welcomed into it, and we should acknowledge the fact that they are—they have a right to be a nuclear power. They are.