Why India needs its nuclear option

August 27, 1996

I LIKE YOUR editorials for their objectivity and frankness. However, your Aug. 23 editorial, ''India keeps its nuclear option,'' provides a somewhat distorted view of the global issue of nuclear disarmament and incorrectly paints India as the villain.

It is inaccurate to brand the new coalition government of India as being leftist. That government is continuing on the path of free market reforms which have served India well in recent years. We all wish this government longevity.

The impasse over the comprehensive test ban treaty came because the disparate nations could not address the real issue, the ultimate abolition of all nuclear weapons.

Unless we understand that the elimination of all nuclear weapons is in our best long-term interest, no treaties to ban testing or limit nuclear weapons to certain nations, or to limit nuclear research and development, will ever be enforceable.

Second, world leaders must understand that it is wrong for some countries to indefinitely enjoy the global muscle that nuclear weapons provide, while all other nations are indefinitely denied this privilege.

The haves, the nuclear five -- U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China -- can maintain, perhaps enhance, their nuclear arsenals through computer and other techniques without testing. The have-nots like India cannot.

As long as some countries have nuclear weapons, the possibility of their use and mass destruction exist. Therefore, the world must set a goal of abolishing all nuclear weapons, not just have a treaty to ban their testing.

As you correctly stated in your editorial, ''The danger from nuclear proliferation is too menacing . . .''

For our sake, for our children's sake, let's vow to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

Pradeep Ganguly

Rockville

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