NEW DELH: Former National Security
Advisor Brajesh Mishra has rejected senior DRDO scientist K Santhanam's
assertion that the 1998 Pokhran II nuclear tests were not fully successful. (
Mishra told a private television channel that the five
nuclear tests conducted in May 1998 were successful and dismissed Santhanam's
statement with regard to them.
"Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, who was then
the scientific adviser to the defence ministry, had openly said that the 1998
nuclear tests conducted in Pokhran were successful. It is enough that Dr Kalam
said that they were successful. Dr. Santhanam was working directly under Dr
Kalam. That should set the record straight," said Mishra
statement came as the defence ministry also rejected Santhanam's assertion and
added that India has a meaningful number of nuclear weapons and an effective
delivery system to go with it.
Sources in the ministry told the Times
Now television channel that India has a nuclear deterrent that is adequate for
K Santhanam, who was director for 1998 test site
preparations, told the Times of India in an interview that the yield of
thermonuclear explosions was actually much below expectations and the tests were
perhaps more a fizzle rather than a big bang.
In nuclear parlance, a
test is described as a fizzle when it fails to meet the desired
Santhanam said the yield for the thermonuclear test, or
hydrogen bomb in popular usage, was much lower than what was claimed. Santhanam
also said that given this fact, India should not rush into signing the
He emphasized the need for India to conduct more tests to
improve its nuclear weapon programme.
The 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 exact yield of the thermonuclear explosion
is important as during the heated debate on the India- US nuclear deal, it was
strenuously argued by the government's top scientists that no more tests were
required for the weapons programme. It was said the disincentives the nuclear
deal imposed on testing would not really matter as further tests were not
According to security expert Bharat Karnad, Santhanam's
admission is remarkable because this is the first time a nuclear scientist and
one closely associated with the 1998 tests has disavowed the government
"This means the government has to do something. Either you
don't have a thermonuclear deterrent or prove that you have it, if you claim to
have it,'' said Karnad.
The yield of the thermonuclear device test in
1998 has led to much debate and while western experts have stated that it was
not as claimed, BARC has maintained that it stands by its
Indian scientists had claimed after the test that the
thermonuclear device gave a total yield of 45 KT, 15 KT from the fission trigger
and 30 KT from the fusion process and that the theoretical yield of the device
(200 KT) was reduced to 45 KT in order to minimise seismic damage to villages
near the test range.
British experts, however, later challenged the
claims saying that the actual combined yield for the fission device and
thermonuclear bomb was not more than 20 KT.
Sources claim that
Santhanam had admitted that the test was a fizzle during a discussion on CTBT
organized by IDSA.
India conducted five nuclear tests at the Pokhran
test range. Three of them were conducted on May 11 and two on May 13,
Rajagopala Chidambaram headed the team, which conducted tests,
and the device was developed at the Defence Research and Development
Organization's Ballistics Research Laboratory.