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Ambassador Naresh Chandra's interview on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, CNN
Aired May 17, 1998 - 12:00 a.m. ET 
 
                  BLITZER: All right, Mr. Ambassador in Washington, you heard
                  Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser, accuse
                  your government of engaging in a campaign of deceit in recent
                  weeks, to mislead the world about your nuclear intentions. How do
                  you respond to that? 

                  NARESH CHANDRA, INDIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE
                  U.S.: Well, I think the facts are well-known, and I think the facts
                  are, as are known to everybody, do not fit this inference. 

                  It is regrettable and unfortunate that such a statement could be
                  made. We have been having a strategic dialogue with our friends in
                  the U.S., and it had the blessings of Mr. Sandy Berger, as well as
                  Mr. Strobe Talbott. It was very ably carried forward by both sides.
                  And at every exchange it was made absolutely clear that the
                  exercise of the nuclear option is non-negotiable. 

                  In fact, one of the rules which were decided upon before we
                  engaged in this dialogue was that no side will push its agenda on the
                  other side. And I don't think, while the policy of the United States
                  was very ably and clearly enunciated by the U.S. interlocutors, there
                  was no demand for a commitment from the Indian side except to
                  say that what the consequences would be. And I don't think the
                  Indian side ever misled the U.S. side. 

                  BLITZER: Well, what would happen if the Pakistani government
                  now goes ahead with a nuclear test of its own? What would be the
                  reaction from India? 

                  CHANDRA: Well, it is for Pakistan to decide what its security
                  needs are. But what I wish to say is that our test should not be
                  viewed as aimed at Pakistan. We have been noticing a substantial
                  gap in our defense preparedness, and this situation prevailing in our
                  neighborhood made it absolutely essential for us to exercise the
                  nuclear option at this time. 

                  It had been under deliberation for a long time. And successive
                  governments had kept the exercise of the nuclear option at a feasible
                  and credible level. 

                  BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, is your government, ready to renounce
                  any additional nuclear tests, and to sign, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty? 

                  CHANDRA: The position on that has already been clarified, by my
                  government. That we want to move towards signing of a document,
                  or undertakings contained in the CTBT, and for that a dialogue has
                  already been proposed. But let me make some comments on what
                  has been stated. 

                  One is the prime minister of the statement has just been described
                  totally out of context. He made it very plain, that it is not a offensive
                  weapon, and he is not going to use it. He said that if the security
                  scenario so requires he will not hesitate to use it in self defense. That
                  is quite a different thing. 

                  The second point is that this so-called Hindu fundamentalism we
                  have to understand that Hindu and fundamentalism is a contradiction
                  in terms, and I think words like India decided to break (ph) the
                  Babri (ph) mosque (ph) is plain wrong. It was the work of a handful
                  of people, who are being prosecuted. 

                  And the overwhelming majority of Indians at that time had criticized
                  the destruction. To say India decided to break the mosque (ph) is
                  absolutely incorrect. 

                  BLITZER: All right. 

                  CHANDRA: Now, to come to the present situation, we feel that
                  instead of looking at it in aggressive terms and clash of interests,
                  what is more important is to engage in a dialogue, and see how the
                  issue is to be resolved because in our view, allowing a dangerous
                  asymmetry to persist in this region was not conducive to peace and
                  stability of South Asia. 

                 Thanks so much for joining us on LATE EDITION.