WASHINGTON DESK - The text copy of a letter sent Monday to president Clinton from Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been received by the Daily Republican Newspaper. It reads as follows -
"Dear Mr. President,
You would already be aware of the underground nuclear tests carried out in India. In this letter, I would like to explain the rationale for the tests.
I have been deeply concerned at the deteriorating security environment, specially the nuclear environment, faced by India for some years past. We have an overt nuclear weapon state on our borders, a state which committed armed aggression against India in 1962.
Although our relations with that country have improved in the last decade or so, an atmosphere of distrust persists mainly due to the unresolved border problem. To add to the distrust that country has materially helped another neighbour of ours to become a covert nuclear weapons state.
At the hands of this bitter neighbor we have suffered three aggressions in the last 50 years. And for the last ten years we have been the victim of unremitting terrorism and militancy sponsored by it in several parts of our country, specially Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir.
Fortunately, the faith of the people in our democratic system as also their patriotism has enabled India to counter the activities of the terrorists and militants aided and abetted from abroad.
The series of tests are limited in number and pose no danger to any country which has no inimical intentions towards India. We value our friendship and cooperation with your country and you personally. We hope that you will show understanding of our concern for India's security.
I assure you that India will continue to work with your country in a multilateral or bilateral framework to promote the cause of nuclear disarmament. Our commitment to participate in non-discriminatory and verifiable global disarmament measures is amply demonstrated by our adherence to the two conventions on Biological and Chemical Weapons.
In particular, we are ready to participate in the negotiations to be held in Geneva in the Conference on Disarmament for the conclusion of a fissile material cut-off treaty.
I enclose for your information the text of the press statement issued after the nuclear tests were carried out today. I close with the expression of my highest consideration for your country and yourself.
A.B. VAJPAYEE "
India’s recent nuclear tests have stunned the Clinton White House which is on the brink of imposing punitive sanctions that are required under the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Act to which India and the U.S. are signatories.
Clinton move to impose sanctions will affect 84 projects in India worth $14.5 billion financed by loans from the World Bank. These could be frozen. Commitments in the 1997 fiscal year total $1.5 billion. The United States would oppose all loans to India.
Making matters worse, Clinton would oppose all loans from the International Monetary Fund to India, precipitating a monetary crisis of disastrous proportions.
If that were not enough, U.S. military and economic aid will be cut off. U.S. Aid to India amounted to a hefty $142.5 million last year and was estimated at $141.9 million for the remainder of 1998.
Still worse, there were exports to India in 1997 of more than $3.6 billion, that would be lost to Clinton's sanctions.
According to World Bank data, American bank loans to the Indian Government will be banned, as well.
Appearing at the White House on Tuesday afternoon Clinton said he was '...deeply disturbed by India's tests.' He called on India to conduct no further tests and to '...sign now and without conditions the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all experiments with nuclear explosions.'
Meanwhile, the Clinton White House' inability to foresee or forestall India's nuclear tests, despite ample warnings, was another failure of Clinton foreign policy.
The evidence of test ban violations was clear in December 1995. U.S. States spy satellites saw thick electric cables being installed at a deep hole in the Rajasthan Desert, evidence that India was preparing for its first nuclear test since 1974. Word went out that Washington was watching, and the Indians backed down. That test never took place.
In an interview with reporters, Francine Frankel, director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania said 'This crisis has been in the works for a long time...India saw itself as destined to be a global power and U.S. policy-makers had never understood that vision, adding to India's resentment.'
When Pakistan tested its Ghauri missile last month, the Clinton White House '... mistook the silence for calm. They took it to believe the Indians were OK. But they were coldly angered at the U.S. for, in their view, not constraining Pakistan,' George Perkovich, an expert on the Indian nuclear program and director of the Secure World program at the W. Alton Jones Foundation, said.