How India Built the Bomb?

How India Built the Bomb
Re “A Bad Deal Gets Worse” (editorial, Aug. 5):
Letter to Editor; New York Times, August 12, 2007

You call for clearer restrictions on India’s nuclear activities if the United States agrees to support them. Plus ça change! In the early 1960s India borrowed from the United States the money to build its nuclear reactor at Tarapur. The loan agreement in draft form came across my desk because I was then a lawyer for the Agency for International Development, the source of the funds. Where was the promise by India, I asked, that the reactor would not be used for military purposes?

The India desk at the State Department was furious. India had assured us, they said, that generation of electricity would be the reactor’s only purpose. Well then, I suggested, there should be no objection to a provision barring military use of fissionable material. But, countered the State Department, that would be questioning the word of Indian officials and might ruffle diplomatic feathers. So the State Department got someone else to approve the loan agreement without a restrictive clause. And India built its bomb.

Francis Dummer Fisher
Austin, Tex., Aug. 5, 2007

The writer is a senior research fellow, L.B.J. School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.


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