National

Had Nehru accepted U.S. offer, India will not have to try for NSG membership: Rasgotra

U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s offer of helping India detonate a nuclear device much before China did in 1964 was rejected by Jawaharlal Nehru.  

India need not have had to make desperate efforts now to get membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) had Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru accepted then U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s offer of helping the country detonate a nuclear device much before China did in 1964, according to former Foreign Secretary Maharajakrishna Rasgotra.

He also said that if Nehru had accepted the offer, not only would have India tested the nuclear device first in Asia, before China, but it also “would have deterred China from launching its war of 1962 and even imparted a note of caution to [Pakistan’s] Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s plans for war in 1965,” according to a Observer Research Foundation (ORF) release.

Mr. Rasgotra was speaking at the release of his new book “A Life in Diplomacy” at ORF.

JFK admired our democracy

“Kennedy, who was an admirer of India’s democracy and held its leader Jawaharlal Nehru in very high esteem, felt that democratic India, not Communist China, should be the first Asian country to conduct a nuclear test,” he said.

Kennedy’s hand-written letter was accompanied by a technical note from the chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, setting out the assistance his organisation would provide to Indian atomic scientists to detonate an American device from atop a tower in Rajasthan desert, the release said.

Warned of Chinese threat

In the letter, Kennedy had said he and the American establishment were aware of Nehru’s strong views against nuclear tests and nuclear weapons, but emphasised the political and security threat China’s test would spell for Nehru’s government and India’s security, it said, adding the American leader’s letter emphasised that “nothing is more important than national security.”

Had India’s first Prime Minister Nehru accepted Kennedy’s offer of helping India detonate a nuclear device much before China did in 1964, India need not have had to make desperate efforts to enter the NSG now, he said.

null
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 13, 2021 2:57:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Had-Nehru-accepted-U.S.-offer-India-will-not-have-to-try-for-NSG-membership-Rasgotra/article14420389.ece

Next Story