In the last few days, India has conducted five nuclear tests, including
the explosion of a thermonuclear device. The tests, which are claimed to
have become necessary due to strategic compulsions affecting our
national security, have also been claimed to be a major scientific and
technological achievement.

We, scientists in various disciplines,
while expressing our deep dismay and unhappiness at this action of the
Indian Government, wish to point out the following:

The magnitude of the S&T achievement in conducting these nuclear tests
should not be blown out of proportion. The technology involved is for
the most part decades old, and the aura of achievement stems mainly from
the secrecy that surrounds its acquisition and mastery. It must also
be seen in relation to far greater technological challenges like the
designing, erecting and successful running of safe nuclear power plants.
This is something we have been doing for a long
time now, and we *are* justifiably proud of it.

These tests are bound to vitiate the atmosphere in the South Asian
region, triggerring a nuclear weapons race in the region,
exacerbating the tensions that already exist and making even
more difficult the achievement of peaceful co-existence and co-operation
amongst the peoples and the nations of this region. The Government of
India has adopted the same cynical language as the nuclear weapon powers
by claiming that these tests will contribute to disarmament.

These nuclear tests have undone the consistent position that has been
taken over the years on nuclear disarmament. While making it clear that
we had the relevant technological capability, India had nevertheless not
taken the step towards weaponisation in order not to initiate a nuclear
arms race in the sub-continent. At the same time, we had taken a firm
stand against signing both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
as well as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) because of their
discriminatory nature. Strangely enough it is now argued by sections in
the government as well as the media , that we should accept and sign the

The country has been committed to an expensive weapons programme
without a national debate. We do not see what immediate threats to
national security `forced' this move, particularly when people's
needs in terms of education, health, infrastructure and industrial
development are urgent. The present Government had promised on assuming
office that a debate on national security issues would take place, but
has in fact initiated a sharp policy turn with wide-ranging
implications without the slightest debate.

We wish to recall here, emphatically, the horror that is nuclear war.
We stand firmly with the long tradition of eminent scientists who have
consistently argued against the induction of nuclear weapons.
The horrors of nuclear war cannot be forgotten, whatever pride we
feel in S&T achievements, or whatever tactical calculations we make.
After all, we still hear of the strategic `compulsions' that led to
the bombing of Hiroshima, and many of us were disgusted by the way the
American media turned the 1991 Gulf war into a show of technological
supremacy. Moreover, can we feel happy and secure in a world in which
every country feels proud of its nuclear weapons capability and is convinced
of the deterrence tactic ?

T R Govindarajan Kamal Lodaya Krishna Maddaly

Kapil Paranjape Venkatesh Raman R Ramanujam

Sudeshna Sinha R Shankar T Jayaraman (IMSc)

D Indumathi Pramathanath Shastry (MRI)

Jaikumar Radhakrishnan (TIFR)

K V Subrahmanyam (SMI)

Enakshi Bhattacharya (IIT Chennai)