Thursday, June 28, 2007
Trashing criticism from the Left over the visit of the American super-carrier, the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) — slated off Chennai from July 1 to 5 — the defence ministry today said this would be the 11th port call by a nuclear-powered ship to India since 2001. The stern statement expresses a rare political willingness to show support for intensified India-US military ties that India's Left has been critical of.
USS Nimitz (CVN-68)Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also dismissed any apprehension, saying the ship does not carry nuclear warheads. There is nothing wrong in a warship visiting Indian ports, he added. India had itself operated a nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Chakra, from 1988 to 1991, the statement said in an effort to show that it has standard operating procedures and environmental safeguards in place for such vessels. Nuclear-powered ships and submarines from France, the UK and the US had visited Indian ports. INS ChakraThe ministry said the process of clearing a harbour to berth nuclear vessels were evolved when the INS Chakra was leased from the Russian navy. An environmental safety committee constituted by the scientific adviser to the defence minister drew up a radiation safety contingency plan. In effect, today’s statement is an effort to show that the Left has been ill-informed in raising not only a political protest against the visit but also in raising safety issues. In accordance with standard operating procedures, the safety committee was told of the visit by the defence ministry.