Pokhran II controversy needless: PM

Published: August 29, 2009 - 15:44

<p>Former president, APJ Abdul Kalam, has already clarified that the programme was a success<br />Hardnews Bureau</p>
<p><br />The latest controversy over the success of Pokhran II tests has raised uncomfortable questions. </p>
<p>In a bid to quell concerns, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently said that the controversy is needless and that former president APJ Abdul Kalam has already clarified that the programme was a success. "A wrong impression has been given by some scientists which is needless. Kalam has clarified that the tests were successful," Singh reportedly said.</p>
<p>The defence ministry and the outgoing naval chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, maintain that the tests were successful despite claims by Santhanam, a former official with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and director for the 1998 test site preparations. Santhanam claimed that the 1998 Pokhran tests were not sufficient from the security point of view. So, India should not sign CTBT and continue improving its nuclear programme, he opined. Former National Security Advisor, Brajesh Mishra, too, attested the success of Pokhran nuclear tests.</p>
<p>The 1998 test was said to have yielded 45 kilotons (KT) but was challenged by western experts who said it was not more than 20 KT. The controversy has again cropped up with Santhanam admitting for the first time that the only thermonuclear device tested was a "fizzle". A test is described as a fizzle when it fails to have desired results.</p>
<p>Santhanam told a national daily that his stand is based upon the seismic measurements and expert opinion from world over which, according to him, make it clear that the yield in the thermonuclear device test (hydrogen in popular usage) was much lower than what was claimed. </p>
<p>Santhanam's admission is significant because this is the first time a nuclear scientist closely associated with the 1998 tests has refuted claims by the government.</p>
<p>But, there are disagreements within the scientific circle, too. R Chidambaram, a key associated with Pokhran II, had described these reports as incorrect. He has also argued that computer simulations would be enough for future design.</p>

Former president, APJ Abdul Kalam, has already clarified that the programme was a success
Hardnews Bureau

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