Indian Scientists Say Nuclear Tests Complete

NEW DELHI--Two of India's leading nuclear scientists say that there are no longer any scientific or technical reasons for the country to oppose the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). In asserting that the explosions on 11 and 13 May provide "enough data" to continue the country's nuclear weapons program without further testing, the two government experts hope to free up the hands of politicians who want India to join the 149 countries that have agreed to the ban. The United States has not ratified the treaty.

"From purely a scientific point of view we have no problem" with India signing the CTBT, Rajagopala Chidambaram, chair of India's Atomic Energy Commission, told ScienceNOW. "We have enough data and we don't need to test again." He cited an "excellent match" between calculated yields and those measured during the underground detonation of five warheads in May. The scientific adviser to the Indian defense minister, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, said yesterday that all further nuclear weapons research can be done with computer simulations.

Political observers say the timing of these statements is significant. Today in Washington, D.C., Indian and U.S. diplomats resumed talks on the impact of the economic sanctions put into place against India after the May tests. On Thursday in New York, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is expected to make a decisive statement on India's nuclear policy before the United Nations General Assembly.