India declined to sell N‑tech to Iran, Iraq & Libya

India declined to sell nuclear tech­nol­o­gy to Iran, Iraq and Libya in the 1980s in spite of being offered “huge” sums of mon­ey, said a lead­ing defence jour­nal.

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Accord­ing to a report, all the three coun­tries offered “huge” sums in the ear­ly 1980s, but the then prime min­is­ter Indi­ra Gand­hi said a firm “No”. Sur­pris­ing­ly, then Iraqi pres­i­dent Sad­dam Hus­sein was most upset and when his per­sis­tent efforts yield­ed no response, he went to the extent of send­ing only a junior min­is­ter for her funer­al.

Iran asked for nuclear tech­nol­o­gy as well as a mil­i­tary train­ing school for its offi­cers some­where in India, again offer­ing sub­stan­tial mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion for both, but Indi­ra Gand­hi said India would not play its friends against one anoth­er.

India had in fact been train­ing Iraqi Air Force pilots, thanks to the com­mon­al­i­ty of the Sovi­et air­craft with the two coun­tries. The defence coop­er­a­tion had begun before the out­break of the Iran-Iraq war, but Indi­an instruc­tors, their num­ber reach­ing 60 at one time, had no man­date except to con­tin­ue the train­ing pro­gramme in accor­dance with the rel­e­vant agree­ments.

India and Iraq had strong mil­i­tary ties in the form of train­ing and at one time, there were about 60 Indi­an Air Force (IAF) offi­cers impart­ing train­ing to their Iraqi friends on Sovi­et-sup­plied air­craft, com­mon to both the coun­tries. One of the Indi­an instruc­tors was also giv­en the high­est pos­si­ble award by pres­i­dent Sad­dam Hus­sein.

Iran and Iraq were then in the thick of their long, eight-year war, which cost each side heavy casu­al­ties and meant no vic­to­ry for any side. Gandhi’s spe­cial envoy for the Gulf, Romesh Bhan­dari, in fact was then shut­tling between the Iran­ian and Iraqi cap­i­tals of Teheran and Bagh­dad to forge peace.

Iraq in fact was sup­posed to host the Non-Aligned Move­ment (NAM) sum­mit in 1983, but as Iran was not will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in it in Bagh­dad, where a new con­fer­ence hotel – Rasheed – had been set up by Swedish com­pa­nies, the venue was moved to New Del­hi at Bhandari’s sug­ges­tion.

Libyan leader Col Muam­mar Gaddafi also want­ed nuclear tech­nol­o­gy and when India refused, he has­sled the Indi­an com­pa­nies and work­ers to pres­sure Gand­hi but she did not budge.


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