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Why K Santhanam said Pokharan II was not a success

Last updated on: August 28, 2009 16:13 IST
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It was a major embarrassment for the country when a senior scientist of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, K Santhanam, made the revelation that Pokhran II, India's nuclear tests in 1998, was not entirely successful.

His statement that comes almost a decade after the test has landed the scientist in hot water. However, Santhanam says he stands by what he has said and has no intention of changing his stance.

In a telephonic interview with's Vicky Nanjappa, Santhanam explains why there was a necessity to make this revelation 11 years later. He also disagrees with former President A P J Abdul Kalam who has said that Pokhran II was a complete success.

As I have said earlier, based on the seismic measurements and also the opinions from experts, there was a much lower yield in the thermonuclear device test. It was lesser than what had been claimed at that time.

Your statement has created a furore in the nation.

I have just stated that facts. I did what I thought was necessary and I don't see why there needs to be an embarrassment due to this.

But you could have said this at that time itself, immediately after the tests were conducted.

I don't agree with you. I thought that the timing was right and hence decided on making this statement now.

There has been a hue and cry since your statement. Is there any chance you want to change your stand?

No. Why should I change my stand? I will always stand by what I have said and there is no question of changing my stand or my statement.

Even the expert opinion from across the world makes it clear that the yield in the thermonuclear device test was much lower than what was claimed.

I have maintained and will always maintain that the test was not more than 60 per cent successful in terms of the yield it generated. I have made this assessment based on the report of the instrumentation data that is available and also the programme coordinator.

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam, who was also involved with the tests, has said that Pokhran II was entirely successful.

I would like to react to that. First of all, Dr Kalam is not a nuclear scientist. He is a missile scientist and he was not present there at that time. He is blissfully ignorant of the facts. Do I need to say more?

All I want to say is that I stand my ground on this issue.

Home Minister P Chidambaram too has shared Kalam's view.

Chidambaram, being part of the establishment, is just repeating what the others are saying, like a parrot.

You have been accused of making this statement after over a decade at the insistence of people against the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Let people say what they want. As I maintained I thought that the timing was right and hence this statement was made. I was not provoked or coaxed by anyone to issue such a statement and let me assure you that there is no malice involved in this.

You speak so much about the timing of making your statement. What is this timing exactly?

There is a change in the administration in the United States of America. They are bound to further pressurise India to sign the CTBT. In such an event it was necessary to make such a statement or speak the truth on the issue so that India does not rush into signing the CTBT.

Therefore, I say the timing of my statement was perfectly right.

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