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|May 26, 1999||
Indian hope disappears as US links lifting of sanctions to nuke NPT
C K Arora in Washington
Prospects of an early lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against India appear bleak in view of the Clinton administration's insistence on linking their withdrawal to the progress in the non-proliferation dialogue between the two countries.
Testifying before a Senate Foreign Affairs Committee panel yesterday, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, Karl Inderfurth, made it clear that the administration was against further easing of the sanctions that the US had imposed on India and Pakistan in protest against their nuclear tests in May last year.
Instead, the administration favoured a ''gradual, step-by-step approach'' of easing sanctions against the two countries, depending on their progress in meeting United States' proliferation concerns, he added.
Panel chairman Sam Brownback has introduced a bill seeking to suspend sanctions for five years against the two countries but Inderfurth said the administration was against such a blanket suspension. It would favour the Congress to extend further the authority it had given to the administration to waive sanctions for one year. It expires in October next.
Inderfurth said the administration wanted ''flexibility'', not an outright ''suspension'' of sanctions. It was not prepared to waive all the sanctions yet. ''We believe India can take certain steps,'' he added.
He also favoured scrapping of the Pakistan-specific Pressler Amendment to provide Islamabad with a level playing field in the post-sanctions scenario.
He was all for a sanctions-free relationship with the two countries.
Earlier, Senator Brownback criticised the Clinton administration's pro-China policy in the wake of the communist nations' nuclear espionage as released by a congressional report yesterday.
He wanted President Clinton to telephone senior Indian officials about broadening the relationship between Washington and New Delhi instead of single-mindedly focussing on China.
If he were an Indian politician, he would be ''deeply concerned'' about the Cox report, detailing how China improved its nuclear arsenal by stealing American nuclear secrets, the senator remarked.
The Brownback Amendment visualising suspension of sanction for five years is likely to be a friction point between the adminsitration and the Congress.
Brownback said: ''We want to lift the sanctions. We don't want to hold them as a sword over India and Paksitan. It is critical to send a positive signal. This is something we must do if we want a long-term relationship.''
He also wanted to know from the administration its rationale for limiting its approach to India mainly to seek its signature on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty instead of pushing for a broad agenda.
Inderfurth, in reply, said the US had a ''broad'' agenda with India, including not only the CTBT but restraints on missile development, production of fissile material and strengthening of export controls.
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