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Interview with Subramanian Swamy, 1987

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Interview with Subramanian Swamy, 1987
Subramanian Swamy is an Indian politician who served in Parliament in the 1970s and 1980s (later becoming a Cabinet Minister), and a scholar who has written extensively on the foreign and economic affairs of India. In the interview he describes his role in the 1960s in demonstrating that India was able economically to afford to develop nuclear weapons. His reasons for supporting such a program stemmed from China's nuclear successes, which posed a threat to India and also showed how much a nation's prestige could be enhanced. Pakistan, he asserts, was not a factor at the time, though it became one after 1971. He argues that adopting a nuclear course was not inconsistent with India's traditions, particularly in the context of guaranteeing her independence. He recounts the attitudes of leading politicians toward the bomb -- including prime ministers Shastri (in favor), Indira Gandhi ("totally pacifist" and opposed) and Desai ("deadly opposed"). He contends that Gandhi finally chose to go ahead with a test in part to respond to Pakistan's program but also as a political act to boost her own popularity at home. Mr. Swamy was "very violently" opposed to the NPT. He describes aspects of the Indian program, names several key scientists involved, and notes the differences between the Indian test and an actual bomb. His reasons for supporting a bomb changed in the 1970s to include the concern that the United States after Vietnam would not be in a position to counter a possible Soviet intervention in the region. Other security concerns were the growth of Sino-Soviet tensions and the invasion of Afghanistan. Mr. Swamy also addresses the intertwined issues of Pakistan's nuclear program and President Jimmy Carter's proliferation policies. He concludes with an assessment of India's current nuclear thinking and the prospects for the next decade. He notes the disutility of using weapons in the region, including the deadly effects for India from wind blowing radioactivity from Pakistan over several Indian cities.
Swamy, Subramanian
February 12, 1987
Collection (local):
WGBH Open Vault
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Soviet Union
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
United States. Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978
Nuclear energy
Iyengar, P. K.
Nuclear nonproliferation
Bhaba, Homi J.
Nuclear weapons
Nuclear disarmament
Sethna, Dr. Homi
Desai, Morarji, 1896-1995
Ramanna, Raja, 1925-2004
Shastri, Lal Bahadur, 1904-1966
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Gandhi, Indira, 1917-1984
United States
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