India granted Dalai asylum in 59 under secret pact: US

Amandeep Sandhu ssandhu at
Wed Aug 11 14:18:01 MDT 1999

>From the Indian daily Hindustan Times []

   India granted Dalai asylum in ’59 under secret pact: US
   Washington, August 10

   India Has denied the “secret” trade-off theory, suggesting that New
   Delhi granted asylum to the Dalai Lama in 1959 in return for an
   American commitment to train its 400 nuclear scientists who later
   helped it produce N-weapons.

   “To me, the whole theory sounds like a fairy tale. I have never heard
   this before,” said deputy chief of Indian Mission T P Sreenivasan at a
   panel discussion organised by National Security News Service here

   The veteran Indian diplomat was responding to former US Marine Major
   William Carson’s claim that the then Prime Minister Jawahar-lal Nehru
   had told the Americans that if India was to accept the Dalai Lama, the
   United States would have to help India develop nuclear weapons.

   “A security assurance is not enough, Nehru said India required its own
   nuclear guarantee against China,” he added. (China would not test a
   nuclear weapon for more than five years, in October 1964).

   Major Carson said though the US had helped provide the nuclear
   reactor, the then President Eisenhower was not willing to make a
   direct transfer of nuclear weapons technology to India. The US envoys
   offered Nehru a compromise. US would accept 400 Indian students into
   US graduate programmes in nuclear sciences.

   He said the course of negotiations left no doubt that Nehru would
   assign the American-trained scientists to produce nuclear weapons.
   India tested its first nuclear device in May 1974, less than 16 years
   after Nehru and the American envoys shook hands over the deal, he

   Mr Sreenivasan, in response, said, “As far as I know, there is no link
   between the Dalai Lama’s arrival in India and the arrival of Indian
   scientists in the United States. Moreover, our nuclear programme has
   been indigenously developed over a period of time.”

   “India and the US have a long history of scientific exchange and many
   scientists have come to the US in pursuit of knowledge.

   Earlier, Major Carson recalled that in the spring 1958, he, as the
   American defence intelligence officer in Hong Kong, learnt from a
   colleague in the British embassy in Beijing that the Chinese were
   planning a campaign of final pacification in Tibet for the spring of
   1959. He said President Eisen-hower summoned his most trusted national
   security aides, a four-star General and two top State Department
   officials, and told them that the way to thwart the Chinese was to
   spirit the Dalai Lama out of Tibet before the Chinese could get to

   Major Carson said Mr Eisenhower believed India could be persuaded to
   grant political asylum to the Dalai Lama, but knew he would have to
   offer some very big incentives. Nehru was a “notorious hard bargainer
   and the favour Eisenhower was asking carried great risk to India,” he

   Using limited aviation support from Tibet, and moving supplies through
   an import-export house created for the purpose in Sri Lanka, Major
   Carson readied the escape route during 1958-59.

   On the night of March 17, 1959, the Dalai Lama and his 84-person
   retinue slipped out of the summer palace.



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