India's new prime minister, Charan Singh, warned today that if Pakistan pursues plans to make a nuclear bomb, his country will have to review its earlier stand of not having a bomb under any circumstances.

This means the subcontinent could be launched into a nuclear arms race by the end of this year.

India exploded a nuclear device in the Rajasthan desert in 1972, and Pakistan is believed here to be preparing its own bomb for detonation, possibly in October.

Singh, speaking from the ramparts of New Delhi's historic Red Fort on the 32nd anniversary of India's independence from Britain, made clear that if his minority coalition government wins a parliamentary vote of confidence next week, it will radically reassess the nation's nuclear policy.

"We know they are making the bomb," he said. "Why are they making the bomb?Against whom is it aimed?

"The bomb is aimed at us. It poses a danger to India's peace and security" Singh said, noting that under the previous government of prime minister Morarji Desai, India had declared it would neither make the bomb nor join any race for nuclear armament.

"But if Pakistan persists in its effort to complete the bomb and continued to collect material for it, we shall have to reconsider our earlier view, Singh said.