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Nuke scientist seeks impartial probe into Pokhran II results

Last updated on: September 18, 2009 13:54 IST

Former Defence Research and Development Organisation scientist K Santhanam, who had questioned the success of the thermonuclear device during the Pokhran-II tests, has favoured an inquiry to determine the results of the 1998 experiments, saying creation of nuclear power could not be based on myths.

"I think this is standard procedure in science and if there are claims then an impartial group of scientists is normally formed to look into the relevant facts," said Santhanam, who triggered a controversy when he claimed that the tests have not yielded the desired results.

Asked whether such a probe will affect the country's image as a nuclear power, he said one should not be carried away by "images or imagery", and that the image must be rooted in solid facts and cleared by competent group of scientists.

"So the creation of a myth must be avoided," he said.

On whether he would prefer to make public the findings of such a committee, he said the panel should be allowed to form its own rules and if there is classified information made available to them, then the report "must remain" confidential.

"They can submit a classified report to the government and an unclassified version for the press," Santhanam said.

His comments came a day after three top nuclear scientists -- M R Srinivasan, P K Iyengar and A N Prasad -- demanded a probe into the claims made by Santhanam, who was the DRDO's project director for Pokhran-II tests.

Santhanam had last month described the May 11, 1998, test as a 'fizzle' (failure to achieve expected yield) and said India needed to conduct more tests, besides not signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

His contention, however, did not receive much attention from the government with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying, "A wrong impression has been given by some scientists, which is needless".

Kalam, who as the then Director General of the DRDO was involved in the nuclear tests in 1998, said the tests were successful and had generated the desired yield.

India conducted five nuclear tests on May 11 and 13, 1998, at the Pokhran range in Rajasthan which included a 45 kiloton (kt) thermonuclear device, called hydrogen bomb in common parlance.

The other tests on May 11 included a 15 kt fission device and a 0.2 kt sub-kiloton device. The two simultaneous nuclear tests on May 13 were also in the sub-kiloton range -- 0.5 and 0.3 kt.

Kalam, also a former scientific adviser to the defence minister, the then Atomic Energy Commission chairman R Chidambaram and the then Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre Anil Kakodkar were key players in the Pokhran-II tests.

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