78. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State1

9924. Subject: Indian Nuclear Policy.

1. In Lok Sabha discussion July 13 triggered by short notice question on supply of enriched uranium to Tarapur, Prime Minister Desai went further than he has before in public statements on peaceful nuclear [Page 199]explosion issue by declaring in answer to a question that he had come to the conclusion that no nuclear explosion is necessary for peaceful purposes. Challenged on this by opposition leader Chanva, Desai retreated somewhat, stating that he would not make this commitment for all future time. In doing so, he reiterated earlier line that if explosion was proved necessary then he would consult with others before proceeding. In this connection, he stressed importance of bringing others to share conclusion that explosion was necessary, if such conclusion ever reached. But later in course of half hour discussion, when asked whether the US had been seeking since 1974 to rewrite the agreement for fuel supply to Tarapur because 1974 PNE had been misunderstood, Desai replied that there was no question of any more explosions for peaceful purposes. This had been “cleared in our (Indo-US) talks” Desai said.

2. In answer to specific question which had prompted discussion—whether USG had agreed to resume Tarapur fuel supply and if so, under what condition—Desai gave very brief reply. He stated that supply had been resumed and that while there had been no pre-condition as such, there had been an “understanding” that discussions would be held between US and India on the larger question of nuclear proliferation.

3. When, despite this statement, Desai was asked if there had been any condition that India would open its nuclear facilities for international inspection, Desai declared that there was no such condition. He added that if there is such a condition, he will never agree to it. When a member subsequently claimed that Desai had earlier agreed to international inspection, Desai denied he had ever said such a thing. He asked amid cheers why he should give such an undertaking when “they” do not allow him to inspect their installations.

4. Asked whether US was exerting pressure on India to “toe their line” and sign the NPT, Desai said he had stated that unless those who possessed atomic weapons and went on with explosions gave them up, GOI could not sign treaty.

5. Foregoing based on Samachar account and report of EmbOff who attended debate but, under Parliamentary rules, was not able to take notes. Given importance of subject, we intend to send in supplementary message when we get full text of debate, probably tomorrow.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770249–0475. Limited Official Use; Immediate. Sent for information Priority to Bombay.