News

DATE=5/11/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43358 TITLE=INDIA / NUCLEAR BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: ONE YEAR AGO TODAY INDIA STUNNED THE WORLD BY CONDUCTING ITS FIRST TEST OF A NUCLEAR DEVICE IN 24 YEARS. TWO DAYS LATER INDIA CONDUCTED TWO MORE TESTS. SEVENTEEN DAYS LATER INDIA'S TESTS WERE MATCHED BY PAKISTAN -- SPARKING FEARS OF AN ARMS RACE AND PERHAPS A NUCLEAR CONFRONTATION IN SOUTH ASIA. NOW, ONE YEAR LATER VOA'S JIM TEEPLE TELLS US INDIANS ARE STILL DEBATING WHETHER THEY ARE MORE SECURE, OR LESS SECURE AFTER THE TESTS. TEXT: THE DUST HAD BARELY SETTLED OVER THE POKHRAN TEST SITE IN THE RAJASTHAN DESERT WHEN THE DEBATE BEGAN IN NEW DELHI. WERE INDIA'S NUCLEAR TESTS REALLY NECESSARY? AND WHAT SORT OF STRATEGIC DETERRENCE DOES INDIA NEED? ONE YEAR LATER THOSE QUESTIONS ARE STILL BEING ASKED. COMMODORE UDAY BAHSKAR IS AN ACTIVE DUTY INDIAN NAVY OFFICER WHO IS ALSO THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE STUDIES AND ANALYIS, A POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTION WITH CLOSE TIES TO INDIA'S DEFENSE ESTABLISHMENT. COMMODORE BHASKAR SAYS THERE'S NO QUESTION THE TESTS WERE NECESSARY AND INDIA HAS NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR. // INSERT BHASKAR ACTUALITY // INDIA SHOULD STAY THE COURSE. THIS IS NOT A TIME FOR US TO BE APOLOGETIC. THERE IS NOTHING THAT INDIA HAS DONE THAT WARRANTS ANY KIND OF APOLOGY. NEITHER IS IT A TIME FOR EUPHORIA. WE HAVE TO STAY THE COURSE IN TERMS OF BEING COMMITTED TO DETERRENCE BUT WE HAVE QUALIFIED IT AS MINIMUM CREDIBLE DETERRENCE, WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THOUSANDS OF WEAPONS. // END ACTUALITY // // OPT // PROTESTS ABOUT THE NUCLEAR TESTS FROM INDIA'S ANTI-NUCLEAR COMMUNITY WERE DROWNED OUT IN THE EUPHORIA WHICH FOLLOWED THE TESTS LAST MAY. ANTI-NUCLEAR ACTIVISTS WHO SPOKE OUT AGAINST THE POKHRAN TESTS WERE GENERALLY SCORNED AND IN SOME CASES THREATENED BY A PUBLIC ENFUSED WITH NATIONAL PRIDE. // END OPT // ONE YEAR LATER SOME ANTI-NUCLEAR ACTIVISTS SAY LAST YEAR'S TESTS DID NOTHING TO ENHANCE INDIA'S SECURITY AND INDEPENDENCE AS TEST PROPONENTS CLAIM. KANTI BAJPAI IS A PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES AT JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY IN NEW DELHI. HE SAYS LAST YEAR'S TESTS HAVE LOCKED INDIA INTO A DIFFICULT AND COSTLY ARMS RACE WITH ITS NEIGHBORS. // INSERT BAJPAI ACTUALITY // THE BOMB LOCKS YOU INTO A MORE DIFFICULT AND MORE COSTLY ARMS RACE IN FACT BECAUSE EVERYONE HAS TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE ELSE'S MISSILE AND NUCLEAR PROGRAM AND CHANGES. IN FACT THE CLAIM THAT IT (NUCLEAR TESTS) GIVES YOU STRATEGIC INDEPENDENCE IS A PEVERSE ONE -- IT GIVES YOU THE OPPOSITE. IT LOCKS YOU INTO A KIND OF TREADMILL THAT YOU CANNOT GET OFF. // END ACTUALITY // LAST MONTH INDIA TEST-FIRED AN UPGRADED VERSION OF ITS BALLISTIC MISSILE THE AGNI-TWO. IT WAS THE FIRST TEST OF THE AGNI MISSILE IN FIVE YEARS AND INDIA'S TEST WAS CLOSELY FOLLOWED ONE WEEK LATER BY PAKISTAN TEST-FIRING AN UPGRADED VERSION OF ITS OWN BALLISTIC MISSILE KNOWN AS THE GHAURI. BOTH MISSILES ARE BELIEVED TO BE CAPABLE OF CARRYING NUCLEAR WARHEADS. OFFICIALS FROM BOTH COUNTRIES DEFENDED THE MISSILE TESTS SAYING THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH LAST YEAR'S NUCLEAR TESTS BUT WERE SIMPLY A NORMAL PART OF DEVELOPING A STRATEGIC DETERRENCE. MANY MEMBERS OF INDIA'S DEFENSE ESTABLISHMENT ALSO SAY THE FACT THAT BOTH PAKISTAN AND INDIA GAVE EACH OTHER PRIOR NOTIFICATION OF THE MISSILE TESTS IS A SIGN BOTH COUNTRIES HAVE NORMALIZED THEIR WEAPONS PROGRAMS. ANTI-NUCLEAR ACTIVISTS IN INDIA SAY THE MISSILE TESTS ARE A GOOD EXAMPLE OF HOW SOUTH ASIA IS HEADING FOR AN UNSTOPPABLE ARMS RACE. (SIGNED) NEB/JLT/PLM 11-May-99 5:35 AM EDT (0935 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .