Monday, March 6, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

‘Minimum N-deterrent must’

KAIGA (Karnataka), March 5 (PTI) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today reiterated India’s commitment to a time-bound and comprehensive global disarmament but asserted that this would be guided by “strategic autonomy and the need to maintain a credible minimum nuclear deterrent”.

Dedicating the second unit of the Kaiga Atomic Power Station to the nation, he said: “Till all weapons of mass destruction are dismantled, we continue to be guided by the imperative of India’s strategic autonomy and the need to maintain a credible minimum nuclear deterrent”.

The Prime Minister’s statement assumes significance in the light of US President Bill Clinton’s forthcoming visit to India.

Mr Vajpayee asserted that India’s self-reliance in the nuclear sector shall not be hindered and said: “Every Indian is proud of the fact that despite sanctions being imposed on us, the capacity factors of our nuclear power plants have gone up considerably”.

He said over the years India had followed a policy of restraint in the area of nuclear weapons.

“Finally in May, 1998, we were compelled to exercise the nuclear option due to deterioration of the regional security environment,” he said.

Mr Vajpayee said the government was committed to increasing funding for research and development (R&D) from one per cent of the GDP to 2 per cent in five year to encourage a career in science among the youth.

For this, the government was preparing a plan to assure a guaranteed career profile for young boys and girls who were talented in science from the plus 2 stage, provided they opted for a career in research in India and lived up to their initiated promise, Mr Vajpayee said.

Recalling that after the nuclear tests in 1998 he had declared that India had become a nuclear weapons state, he said the country “would follow a no-first use policy. This shows our confidence in our nuclear strength. It also shows our desire that weapons of mass destruction should not be used by anybody”.

Congratulating the Nuclear Power Corporation for its achievements, Mr Vajpayee said the 220-mw electric pressurised heavy water reactor was indigenously designed to meet the latest safety standards and had the state-of-the-art technology, including computerised controls.

Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Dr R. Chidambaram said the second unit had attained criticality on September 24 last year and had been synchronised with the grid on December 2.


Pakistan against arms race with India: Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, March 5 (PTI) — Pakistan’s military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf today said Islamabad did not want to indulge in arms race with India but “our deterrence will remain as always.”

“Our security is paramount” and there would be no slackness in strategy and deterrence, General Musharraf told reporters in Karachi, adding, “but we do not want to indulge in an arms race”.

When a reporter referred to the hike in India’s defence budget, he said if New Delhi “wants to spend a lot, it can do so.” “Our deterrence will remain as always”, General Musharraf said, according to official APP news agency.

He alleged that India was “deliberately” escalating tension on the border and “this appears to be part of the Indian plan to destabilise Pakistan”. He also alleged India did not want Pakistan to make headway and was trying to exert “economic, political, diplomatic and military pressure on Pakistan”.

On the possibility of US President Bill Clinton’s visit to Pakistan, he said chances were bright because of “a number of factors, but we have left this up to the US President whether to visit or not”.Back


Clinton may stop over in Pak

WASHINGTON, March 5 (PTI) — US President Bill Clinton may stop over in Islamabad for “a few hours” on his return journey from Mumbai, according to sources.

The Pakistanis have always wanted a formal Clinton visit to Islamabad. The White House is expected to make it clear, when the announcement comes, whether the meeting with the Pakistani leader will be at the airport near Islamabad or he will go to Islamabad.

Earlier reports had said there were concerns about Clinton’s security in Pakistan. However, these were disputed.

The Pakistani Government, its embassy and lobbyists have been mounting a major campaign to ensure that Mr Clinton spends at least a few hours in Pakistan to give credibility to the Musharraf regime.

Meanwhile, Indian Ambassador to the USA Naresh Chandra is leaving for New Delhi on March 12 in connection with Mr Clinton’s visit to India.Back

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