Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Indian scientists question 1998 nuclear tests

More Indian scientists have started questioning New Delhi’s nuclear capability. Former chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), PK Iyengar, said he had conveyed to the government in 2002 that the 1998 nuclear tests were inconclusive and ambiguous.

His comments came as nuclear scientist K Santhanam, who was associated with the nuclear tests at the time, said they had not been as successful as claimed.

Another scientist Homi Sethna, known as the guiding force behind India’s first nuclear test in 1974, on Tuesday slammed former president APJ Abdul Kalam saying he had no authority to reject former defence scientist K Santhanam’s claim that the explosion was only partially successful.

Iyengar alleged that the nuclear tests of 1998 had been a hasty decision. A Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee had just assumed office when India conducted the tests. “They might have received a tip-off that Pakistan was ready for tests, so they went in to take a lead,” he added.

The comments by Sethna, the energy commission chairman in 1974, came notwithstanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and APJ Kalam settling the controversy over the 1998 nuclear tests.

Kalam, who was Santhanam’s boss as head of the Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1998, said the only thermonuclear device (hydrogen bomb) tested produced the “desired results”.

“What did he (Kalam) know about extracting, making explosive-grade material? He didn’t know anything. He appeared to wear the stature only by being a president. He relied on atomic energy to gain additional stature,” Sethna said while talking to the CNN-IBN channel.

“I don’t like politicians to interfere, especially lay politicians. I firmly believe that they should stay out. When we did the tests... It was a raw one,” Sethna said.

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