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|July 15, 1998||
Defence experts fear India will compromise on CTBT
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government's continuing silence over the recent talks held in Frankfurt between special envoy Jaswant Singh and United States Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott has created doubts in some defence circles that India might whittle down its position on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
While senior defence ministry officials are tight-lipped on the matter, retired officials who are now observers of the security scenario say the government's silence is 'undesirable'.
An observer pointed out that India's refusal to unconditionally sign on the dotted line had elicited much admiration from Third World countries, many of them arm-twisted into signing the CTBT and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, the Frankfurt talks are still shrouded in secrecy, which is causing misgivings in some quarters.
"Even if there is a move by the government for a new approach regarding the CTBT, it should be made clear," he said.
The government is also silent about the continuation of the Jaswant-Talbott talks, scheduled to resume in New Delhi on July 20, the experts pointed out.
They said any whittling down of India's CTBT stand would open the 'floodgates' of Western pressure which aims to cap and roll back New Delhi's nuclear and missile programmes.
Meanwhile, ministry of external affairs officials pointed out that a US official's observations about China's role in the security scenario in South Asia indicated that the Clinton administration was coming to grip with realities. Despite US intelligence and media reports about the Beijing-Islamabad nexus, Washington had thus far chosen to turn a blind eye. However, as increasing evidence surfaced, the Clinton administration has been forced to take cognisance.
To usher peace and stability in the South Asian region, the US have to ensure the discontinuation of the Beijing-Islamabad nexus, the officials said.
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