NSA terms Santhanam’s claims ‘horrific’

September 21, 2009 12:36 am | Updated December 04, 2021 10:48 pm IST - New Delhi

National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan has termed the claims of the former DRDO scientist, K. Santhanam, on the Pokhran-II nuclear tests as “horrific.” He said India has verified thermonuclear capabilities.

He said the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which comprises a peer group of scientists, last week came out with the “most authoritative” statement on the efficacy of the 1998 nuclear tests and no more clarification was required from the government.

“They [AEC] were satisfied in 1998 and they were satisfied in 2009. Now what are you going to discuss?” he told Karan Thapar on the ‘India Tonight’ programme of CNBC-TV18 .

Mr. Narayanan said the AEC, an independent commission and the highest body in such matters, was asked to study the data of the 1998 nuclear tests once again in the wake of the controversy over the efficacy of the hydrogen bomb, following the statements of Mr. Santhanam.

“I think, we have done what we have done. Beyond that I do not know what we can do,” he said.

Eminent scientists such as C.N.R. Rao, P. Rama Rao and M.R. Srinivasan were members of the AEC and the doyen of the nuclear programme Raja Ramanna was part the apex nuclear body which went into the test results in 1998.

“The thermonuclear device had a yield of 45 kilotons. I have chosen my words carefully -- 45 kilotons and nobody, including Mr. Santhanam who has absolutely no idea what he is talking about, can contest what is proven fact by the data which is there,” Mr. Narayanan said.

The NSA claimed that a “very authoritative piece” about the nature of the tests written by AEC Chairman Anil Kakodkar and senior scientist S.K. Sikka was being “examined by physicists all over the world.”

Mr. Narayanan said the former AEC chairman, P.K. Iyengar, had admitted that the yield of the thermonuclear test “might have been 45 kilotons” and had raised doubts about the fission and fusion reactions happening at the same time.

“All the atomic scientists are part of the establishment.”

“Those who are sceptics, the same ones Dr. Iyengar, Dr. A.N. Prasad, the same ones were sceptical about the civil nuclear initiative,” he said.

Mr. Narayanan said Mr. Santhanam was not privy to the information on which the test measurements were taken. “As the NSA, I know what the DRDO is supposed to do and what it knows. I think he is not merely exaggerating, I think he is talking something which is horrific,” he said.

Asked about the doubt the former Army Chief, V.P. Malik, had raised about the efficacy of the hydrogen bomb, he said: “I think the person to answer that, is the present chief and not the past chief…”

“We have thermonuclear capabilities. I am absolutely sure. We are very clear on this point. If you hit a city with one of these you are talking about 50,000 to 1,00,000 deaths,” the NSA said.

Mr. Narayanan said the “kind of interested propaganda being put out by various people” in the media was a matter of concern for the government.

On the U.S. move to press for a UN Security Council resolution calling upon all countries to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), he said the issue had already been raised with the Americans who have assured India it would not affect the civil nuclear agreement.

He said India had also talked to countries with whom it had signed nuclear agreements, against the backdrop of the U.S. bid to get the G-8 to ban sale of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to non-nuclear states.

He termed an “old story” ex-Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s admission that Islamabad was deploying American military aid meant for fighting terrorism against India.

He said Pakistan’s acquisition of sophisticated weaponry from America in the last three to four years was more worrying than any modification of Harpoon missiles.

No first use doctrine

Strongly refuting the need to rethink the ‘no first use’ doctrine, he said: “It is a very well thought out doctrine. We are clear for various reasons. For us it is only a deterrent. We are committed to it.”

On reports of Pakistan enhancing its nuclear arsenal, he said: “The fact that the country which is not particularly friendly to us is building up its nuclear arsenal is certainly a matter of concern.”

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