168. Telegram 8150 From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1 2


  • Meeting With Prime Minister, June 19, 1974
In a friendly, easy talk this morning Prime Minister Gandhi stated that if a comprehensive test ban treaty were “proposed which brought everybody in and was not discriminatory, then India would be for it.” Once such an overall treaty were in place, India would support a treaty for the international regulation and supervision of peaceful nuclear explosions.
The responsibility for moving in this direction rests with the other nuclear countries which have stockpiles of weapons. Her Private Secretary P.N. Dhar interjected that a first step would be for the two superpowers to agree to this approach. To my suggestion that India would then expect that this subject would be raised at the forthcoming Moscow Summit, the Prime Minister replied that “this might be a good thing.”
As her “personal opinion, not necessarily that of the government’s” the Prime Minister said that even for peaceful purposes” if there were “any alternatives I would rather use those than nuclear energy.” We talked of solar energy. She made clear her feeling that the amounts of aid now being reveived couldn’t in itself significantly affect India’s economic conditions and needs which are so great. Hence the heed to explore options such as nuclear energy.
The Prime Minister noted that her father first proposed a test ban treaty at the UN. This was ridiculed, at the time, by both the US and the USSR. But when such a treaty came India signed it. India did not sign the NPT which was discriminatory. The real problem at this moment is not so much horizontal proliferation as vertical proliferation. China and France remain out of the NPT. The policy today is against the interests of developing countries. In the past few days both had set off explosions of greater yield than India’s.
Their Pakistan preoccupation persists. To wit: Pakistan had set off a hue and cry about India. But had said nothing when the Chinese tested. In 1965 at the United Nations Mr. Bhutto had ridiculed the idea of there being any need for a nuclear umbrella inasmuch as China’s test was peaceful. etc. In a long talk with Dhar yesterday he asked me what we were going to do about Pakistan. I replied that the real question was what was India going to do. India was the big nation down here, and the one which had exploded a nuclear device it was India’s job to enable Pakistan to live with this. He began recounting things being said in Islamabad. I interrupted to say that India was still thinking like a little country and had got to start thinking like a big country. He had begun with an account of the British decision to grant parity as between Muslims and “nonmuslims”, the Muslim League and the Congress Party, etc. I said this was all in the past and it was time India caught up with present realities, much as the United States eventually learned to do in North America.
The Prime Minister concluded—the first time in my experience—by asking that I convey to the President her warm regards.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Islamabad Embassy Files: Lot 77 F 114, Decentralized Subject Files 1973–74, Pak/India January–June 1974. Confidential. It was repeated to Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Islamabad, and the Mission to IAEA in Vienna.
  2. Ambassador Moynihan met with Indian Prime Minister Gandhi to discuss nuclear energy and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.