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February - March 2005

Political News

Russian President visits India to Promote Security Alliance

by Sashanka Sekhar Banerjee

The Secret Indian Nuclear Tests of May 1998 known as Pokhran 2.

India tested 5 nuclear devices in May 1998 at Pokhran in Rajasthan ; one of them was a thermo-nuclear weapon , a hydrogen bomb. The P5 nations, the 5 permanent members of the Security Council of the UN, have not extended recognition to India up until the year 2004 as a nuclear weapons power under the definition of the NPT. However such bureaucratic gobbledegook and unreality of the Treaty could not take away from India the ground reality of its newly acquired status as a nuclear weapons power.

The decision to go in for the tests was that of Atal Behari Vajpayee who was the Prime Minister of India at that time. It is important to know that Indian scientists were ready with their Nuclear Weapons for testing when P.V. Narsimha Rao took over as Prime Minister in 1991. When preparations were being made at Pokhran Test Site for the tests in 1991, the Americans detected the movement of special purpose vehicles and other heavy equipment to and from Pokhran from the intelligence satellites in space. India was warned by the US that if it went ahead with the tests, New Delhi would attract hurtful and heavy economic sanctions from the US and the rest of the international community.

India was in no mood for confrontational defiance of the West when it was warned not to go for the tests. At the same time, New Delhi’s determination to go ahead with the tests hardened after such threats. A search for an window of opportunity began. The tests were postponed but not cancelled. Washington however went silent after India decided to drop the idea for the tests in 1991.

Meanwhile the scientists, determined in their course of action, found a more circuitous way to hood-wink satellite detection by the US. They located a few miles away from the test sight, a spot camouflaged by a cover of trees. It turned out to be effective against detection from space. The engineers dug an underground tunnel all the way to the test sight and moved equipment through this tunnel. They took the additional precaution of undertaking the heavy-duty work only at night in the summer months when there were dust storms over the Thar deserts. The dust storms provided the second layer of cover against satellite detection. The underground tunnel, the cover of darkness of night and the over-hanging dust storms proved adequate in detection avoidance.

When the nuclear weapons were actually detonated the CIA was taken by total surprise. It was obvious that the Indian engineers had securely and successfully blinded the US spy satellites. The CIA had absolutely no prior intelligence information on India’s decision to test the nuclear weapons in May 1998. It has come to be known as one the most embarrassing intelligence failures of the world’s most heavily funded intelligence organisation. Other such intelligence failures of the CIA that are in the public domain are its inability to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the existence of the weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussain's Iraq. The CIA’s failures came under heavy criticism at the hands of the 9/11 Commission of the Senate of the US.

The Russians disbanded the Warsaw Pact and the KGB – the two institutions of the Cold War - after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Washington on the other hand has persisted in keeping the NATO and the CIA in place despite demands made by Russia and several other nations to dismantle them. If dismantling NATO is in progress, will the demise of CIA be far behind ?

Predicting a President’s future
Kwame Nkruma was the President of Ghana in the fifties and sixties. A great friend of the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, he was one of the stalwarts of the Non Aligned Movement, supposed to be the third force in a bi-polar world during the cold war.

Nkruma had close security links with India. The Security Advisor to the President of Ghana in 1958-62 was a senior officer of the Indian Police Service, chosen personally by Nehru.

During the period of his tour of duty, Kwame Nkruma got married with a lot of pomp and show as is the case with most African potentates. A year later the President was blessed with a son. In a queer turn of events, the Indian officer was called to the Presidential Palace a short while later and was given a hard task. Nkruma told the Indian officer that he had heard that Indian astrologers were known for their knowledge of astrology and capable of accurate predictions of fortunes. The President wanted an astrological chart of his son made by an eminent astrologer in India and would like to know the prediction for the future of his son and himself.

Such details as the boy’s date of birth and exact time at birth etc were obtained , essential elements needed for purposes of calculations, and sent out to New Delhi. The strange request went up to Jawaharlal Nehru the Indian Prime Minister who commissioned a famous astrologer to do the job.

The report predicted that when the son would turn the 7th year of his age, his father ie Kwame Nkruma would be deposed in a military coup and exiled out of the country. Taking precaution not to alarm the President or spoil his day, the Indian Security Advisor expunged the relevant part and handed over the otherwise mundane astrological chart to the President. Nkruma thus remained in cosy ignorance of that one dire prediction of the Indian astrologer, although some minor ones were passed on to the cutomer.

The matter was thereafter forgotten in the fog of the passing years. As the boy turned 7, Kwame Nkruma was invited to Beijing by the Chinese helmsman Mao Zhe Dong. As the African leader was inspecting the guard of honour presented by the People Liberation Army a dramatic message went out to him that he was overthrown in a military coup and exiled out of his country. The Chinese military abruptly called off the guard of honour and very promptly the former President of Ghana was despatched out of the country . Nkruma was given political asylum in Ivory Coast where he spent the last days of his life with his family.

Nkruma was not pleased when he came to know some months later that the Indian astrologer’s prediction about the turmoil that awaited him at the 7th year of his son’s age was kept from him by the Indian Security Advisor.

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