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Updated: September 25, 2009 14:58 IST

AEC ex-chief backs Santhanam on Pokhran-II

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Former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, P.K. Iyengar. Photo: Kamal Narang
The Hindu Former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, P.K. Iyengar. Photo: Kamal Narang

In the midst of the controversy over the success of the 1998 thermonuclear test, nuclear scientist P.K. Iyengar has said the views of former DRDO scientist K. Santhanam on the issue are the “clincher.”

There is a “strong reason to believe that the thermonuclear device had not fully burnt and, therefore, further testing was called for,” Mr. Iyengar, a former Atomic Energy Commission Chairman, said in a statement on Thursday.

He rejected the statement attributed to him by government’s Principal Scientific Advisor R. Chidambaram on the outcome of the 1998 thermonulcear test, saying he was “misquoted” by him on something he had written in 2000.

He said Mr. Chidambaram had “tried to imply that I am in agreement with the official number for the yield of the thermonuclear test of 45 kilotons and that I, therefore, also agree that the thermonuclear device was a success.

“This is not correct. What I wrote in a newspaper article published in August 2000 was that if one goes by the numbers for the total nuclear yield put out by the Department of Atomic Energy, which I see no reason to dispute, the yield of the thermonuclear device detonated on May 11, 1998, was around 40 kilotons. This is a rather low yield.”

The crux of that article was that even if one were to accept without question the DAE yield of 40 kt, there is a strong reason to believe that the thermonuclear device had not fully succeeded, Mr. Iyengar said.

Terming the test as “fully successful”, AEC Chairman Anil Kakodkar and Mr. Chidambaram had on Thursday said the controversy triggered by Mr. Santhanam, was “unnecessary“.

Mr. Iyengar said the revelations by Mr. Santhanam, who was associated with Pokhran-II, are the “clincher”.

Mr. Santhanam was one of the four leaders associated with Pokhran II and must certainly have known many of the details, particularly with regard to the seismic measurements, Mr. Iyengar said.

He said, “If he (Santhanam) says that the yield was much lower than projected, that there was virtually no crater formed, and that these reservations were formally presented by DRDO in 1998 itself, then there is considerable justification for reasonable doubt regarding the credibility of the thermonuclear test and, therefore, of our nuclear deterrent.”

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