India should not give into the pressure from some of its nuclear scientists to carry out an atomic test, and if it does it would be a huge setback to its relations with the US and for the battle against terrorists, The New York Times said on Monday.
In an editorial 'Just say No', the influential US paper said Indian nuclear scientists were trying to bully their government into testing a nuclear weapon.
"That would be a huge setback -- for India's relations with Washington, for the battle against terrorists, and for global efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons... Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh is resisting. He must continue to resist," the newspaper said.
The editorial referred to claims made by Defence Research and Development Organisation scientist K Santhanam that the 1998 nuclear test was a 'fizzle' and said "one has to wonder why he waited 11 years to raise the alarm."
"We suspect that Santhanam and his colleagues are worried that if Washington finally ratifies the treaty (Non Proliferation Treaty), India may feel compelled to sign on," it said.
The US should make clear that India has more to gain by focusing on economic growth and expanding global cooperation than on developing more nuclear weapons, the newspaper said.
"And it should leave no doubt about how much India and the rest of the world have to lose if New Delhi makes the wrong choice," it said.
The editorial also said if India tests, the United States is bound by a 2008 agreement to cut off all sales of nuclear fuel and technology. "That would be a huge setback to India's plans to expand its nuclear power generation and its economy."
"We fear that if India tests, Pakistan will decide that it has to test. That would raise tensions between the two longtime rivals, and it would further distract Islamabad and its generals from the far more important battle against the Taliban and other extremists inside their country and along their border with Afghanistan," the editorial said.
The paper also noted that the US Congress recently approved a five-year USD 7.5-billion aid package to strengthen civilian rule in Pakistan and encourage the fight against extremists.
"There would be strong pressure to cut that aid if Pakistan tested. And if India and Pakistan test (China also may be unable to resist), it could make it even harder for President Obama to persuade the Senate to ratify the test ban treaty."