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September 9, 1998


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US declines to set conditions for lifting of sanctions

The Clinton administration is against spelling out its definite conditions for India and Pakistan to secure the lifting of economic sanctions that the United States had slapped on the two countries in protest against their May nuclear tests.

''We do not believe it would be advisable, nor could we support efforts, to codify or legislate the steps that India and Pakistan would need to take in order to gain relief from sanctions, or to match specific actions by India or Pakistan to the lifting of particular sanctions,'' said Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agriculture Stuart Eizenstat.

Participating in the discussion on the proposed legislation on economic sanctions with the senate task force dealing with the subject, he said, ''Although there is substantial agreement between the administration and Congress on our non-proliferation objectives, it would greatly complicate our efforts to bring about change, were a series of benchmarks established by law.''

''Nor would India or Pakistan respond well to such an approach,'' he said adding, ''writing such steps into law would create the impression that India and Pakistan would be acting under pressure, to ensure the lifting of US sanctions.

''This would greatly constrain our chances of achieving the outcomes we seek,'' Eizenstat remarked.

About the situation in India and Pakistan, Eizenstat said: ''We have begun in earnest a process of re-engagement with both India and Pakistan in an effort to secure genuine progress on our non- proliferation concerns.''

He said Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott had had several productive sessions with the designated representatives of both governments. ''As a result of these diplomatic efforts, it appears we are making progress in defining the principles that will underpin US relations with India and Pakistan in the post-test environment, in laying out our non-proliferation objectives and in discussing the steps and activities that will be necessary to get us there,'' he added.

He said the US was implementing the Glenn Amendment sanctions against New Delhi and Islamabad ''firmly and correctly''. Although it was too early to qualify the effect that these sanctions would have on economic growth or business activity in either country, it was clear that they would result in significant economic and political costs for both countries.

Eizenstat, however, said the lack of flexible waiver-authority under the Glenn Amendment had limited the US ability to be creative in encouraging India and Pakistan to cooperate in avoiding an arms race on the sub-continent. ''Our purpose is not to punish for punishment's sake, but to influence the behaviour of both governments.''

''But our ability to influence requires greater flexibility. We do not wish for unnecessary harm to fall upon the civilian populations of either country -- particularly the poor and less fortunate -- or on US businesses,'' he added.

''For this reason,'' the state department official pointed out, ''we are pleased that the senate acted in July to correct an obvious unintended consequence of the sanctions law -- preventing the provision of credits for agricultural commodities.''

As recent debates on the senate floor demonstrated, Eizenstat said: ''The administration and the congress share a desire to inject a greater degree of consistency, flexibility and effectiveness into the sanctions regimes against India and Pakistan. It is absolutely vital that we build upon this very strong foundation to effect the requisite changes in our policy and in our laws.''

He said this was the reason behind the administration's strong support to senate's passage of the Brownback-Robb Amendment which gave the president greater flexibility on the India and Pakistan sanctions.

''Ideally, we would want to go even further and would prefer waiver-authority for all of the sanctions currently in place. Of course, we will not use any waiver-authority until such time as substantial progress has been made toward achieving our non-proliferation objectives, or in the event that there were a serious negative and unintended consequence to a specific sanction such as impending financial collapse leading to economic chaos and political instability,'' he added.

He said, ''We also would like additional flexibility to guard against an overwhelmingly disproportionate effect of the sanctions on one country versus another, ideally, the sanctions should have roughly the same effect on India as they do on Pakistan, the latter being in more fragile economic condition and more dependent on international financial institutions funding, which the Glenn Amendment requires us to oppose.


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