India conducts 3 underground nuclear tests, says it’s weapon-ready

NEW DELHI, India (AP) — India set off three underground nuclear blasts Monday and announced it was capable of making nuclear weapons, enraging its neighbor and rival, Pakistan, and defying a worldwide campaign to contain the spread of nuclear arms.
India’s 1-month-old government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, surprised allies and enemies alike with the nation’s first nuclear tests in 24 years.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee summoned reporters to his home to reveal that India had conducted three underground nuclear tests in the desert 330 miles southwest of New Delhi.
No radiation was released into the atmosphere, he insisted, adding that scientists tested a fission device, a low-yield device and a thermonuclear device. He refused to answer questions. India’s ambassador to the United States said India was not planning an extensive nuclear weapons program.
India did not comment on the size of the explosion. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology said its earthquake-measuring devices put the magnitude at 5.2, which it said would be equal to about 10 kilotons of TNT. The U.S. atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, was the equivalent of about 15 kilotons.
The United States expressed its disappointment but did not say if it would ban aid or impose sanctions to keep sophisticated technology out of India.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for “maximum restraint” from countries in the region and said the explosions violated an international understanding.
The U.N. statement noted that India had not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, adopted in September 1996 by the U.N. General Assembly. The treaty, which has not taken force, would ban all nuclear tests.