New Delhi: At a time when India is trying hard to garner other countries' support to back its Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) bid, a book has claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru had the chance to get the membership but he rejected it.
In his book, former foreign secretary Maharajakrishna Rasgotra mentioned that US president John F Kennedy had offered India a chance to develop and detonate a nuclear device much before China’s test in 1964.
However, Nehru had rejected the offer.
Rasgotra says in the book that if Nehru had accepted the offer, 50 years later India would not have to yearn to enter into the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
“Not only would we have tested the nuclear device first in Asia, before China, but it would have deterred China from launching its war of 1962 and even imparted a note of caution to Pakistan’s plans for war in 1965,” said Rasgotra, while speaking at the release of his book `A Life in Diplomacy`.
In the book, Rasgotra, the foreign secretary under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, that Kennedy's exceptional gesture came in the wake of American intelligence in the late 1950s that China was progressing towards a nuclear test.
“Kennedy, who was an admirer of India’s democracy and held its leader Jawaharlal Nehru in very high esteem, felt that democratic India, not Communist China, should be the first Asian country to conduct a nuclear test,” the former foreign secretary said.
In his handwritten letter, Kennedy had written: “Nothing is more important than national security”.
The letter was accompanied by a technical note from the chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission, setting out the assistance his organisation would provide to Indian atomic scientists to detonate an American device from atop a tower in Rajasthan desert.
Notably, the former US president had also mentioned that he as well as the American establishment were aware of Nehru’s reluctance towards nuclear tests and nuclear weapons.
Nehru discussed the whole matter with Dr Homi Bhabha and GP Parthasarathy, and rejected the offer.
Former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha released the book at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).