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The Rediff Special/ Karl F Inderfurth

'Sanctions are to influence the behaviour of India and Pakistan, not to punish for punishment's sake'

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US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl F Inderfurth makes out the case for sanctions against India and Pakistan.

Mr Chairman, I last appeared before this subcommittee eight months ago, on October 22, 1997. The focus then was on our efforts to expand and enhance our engagement in the South Asia region, emphasising our co-operative interaction with India and Pakistan on such matters as trade and investment, science and technology, environment and health. Since that time, the landscape in South Asia has changed dramatically -- for the worse.

On May 11, 1998, events in the region took a decidedly dangerous turn when India tested a series of nuclear devices, leading to a reciprocal series of tests by Pakistan and the imposition of far-reaching sanctions against both countries by the United States. The international community joined the United States in condemning these actions which present a serious challenge to the global non-proliferation regime, heighten concerns about regional stability, and raise considerably the stakes of Indo-Pakistani tensions.

In the six weeks that have passed since India tested, we have worked assiduously to collect the necessary information, put in place the needed mechanism, and make the requisite decisions to establish the sanctions regime against both India and Pakistan. We have endeavored to ensure that the implementation of sanctions under the Glenn Amendment and other legislative authorities is firm and correct, and that the sanctions are costly to the governments who took these steps but do not undercut efforts to meet basic humanitarian needs or unduly harm the interests of US businesses. In doing so, we are sending a strong message to any other state aspiring to a nuclear weapons capability.

At the same time, we wish to underscore that the purpose of these sanctions is to influence the behaviour of both India and Pakistan, not simply to punish for punishment's sake. We do not wish to isolate either country, but rather encourage both to take steps to demonstrate a firm commitment to global non-proliferation norms and to improve their relationship with one another.

As an aside, Mr Chairman, one outcome of our deliberations over the implementation of sanctions was a clear recognition that these mandatory sanctions were meant primarily as a deterrent; we had hoped they would never have to be implemented. We had to navigate our way through a wide array of issues and decisions about how the sanctions apply to different programmes and activities, and are faced with the fact that the sanctions may result in unintended, negative consequences, and that there is no termination or sunset clause.

While we have yet to see the kinds of concrete steps by either India or Pakistan that will allow us to move forward, I would point out that we are significantly constrained in our ability to respond to any future progress or positive steps by either country. We also have little flexibility to modify their application in the vent that there is an unintended, negative outcome to their implementation. Already, we are aware that the sanctions require the termination of credits for agricultural sales, which is clearly at odds with the humanitarian provisions of the legislation.

In the immediate aftermath of the tests by India and Pakistan, we became quite concerned about the tense atmosphere in the region, and by provocative statements and actions by officials of both countries that appeared to be intended solely to stir the pot. In that kind of environment, there is an increased capacity for one-upmanship or miscalculation, with potentially devastating consequences. That being the case, the United States -- with the president and the secretary of state in the lead -- pressed both governments and energised the international community in an effort to lower tensions.

We have noticed in recent days a cooling of the rhetoric from both Islamabad and New Delhi and have seen calls from both capitals to resume direct dialogue. Both have declared a moratorium on further nuclear testing and have taken a more cautious line on future developments regarding their nuclear and missile programmes. India has made positive statements about a willingness to participate in negotiations towards a fissile material cut-off treaty; we hope Pakistan will follow suit. Though we recognise that reestablishing direct, senior-level contact may take more time than we would prefer, we believe it is very important that both sides strike a more responsible tone in their public pronouncements and we are urging them to do so.

In addition to our continuing efforts to deal with the crisis, stave off further tests, and to encourage the cessation of provocative statements and actions, we are also making a concerted effort to lay the groundwork for halting a nuclear and missile arms race in the region, and to address the underlying causes of tension between the region's two antagonists. Again, we are working actively on this effort with the international community, as it is critical that we involve a wide array of governments, institutions, and organisations. Already, two important international meetings have taken place in which the secretary of state participated and which I attended, one with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Geneva, the other with her counterparts in the G-8 in London.

Both meetings made significant progress in identifying a common approach on how to contain the crisis and prevent further tests and slippage into an all-out arms race and, more fundamentally, how to reduce tensions between the two parties and bring them into the fold of global non-proliferation norms. In addition, the UN Security Council approved a strong resolution which endorsed the P-5 communique and sent a firm message in line with the P-5 and G-8 approach. I have provided the Committee with copies of the communiques from both meetings, and ask your permission that they be inserted into the record of this hearing.

As I suggested earlier, Mr Chairman, we cannot simply impose sanctions, step away, and send the signal to India and Pakistan that our sole intent is to punish. We must remain engaged, and while sanctions will indeed exact a price, we must also work with both governments to chart a path for the future. That future ideally will produce concrete actions by both governments to demonstrate a strong commitment to nuclear and missile restraint and reducing regional tensions. These actions should include signing and ratifying the CTBT without conditions, refraining from missile tests and agreeing not to weaponise or deploy missile systems, halting the production of fissile material and participating constructively in negotiations towards a fissile material cut-off treaty, formalising existing pledges not to export or transfer nuclear and ballistic missile technology or expertise, and for the sake of regional stability and prosperity, resuming direct dialogue to address the root causes of tensions, including Kashmir.

The United States has a strong interest in keeping open the lines of communication with both India and Pakistan. Deputy Secretary Talbott met last week at the state department with Jaswant Singh, deputy chairman of the Indian Planning Commission and a close advisor and confidant to Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee. Their meeting was described by the department as constructive, covering the entire range of issues of mutual concern. In plainer language, after a hiatus of six weeks, the United States and India are talking again at a high level to see where we can go. We are now working to arrange a similar meeting with a high-level Pakistani envoy.

Mr Chairman, the United States must also work aggressively to keep the international community focussed and working productively on these matters. The P-5 and G-8 meetings were not a one-shot deal, and we will continue to work within these institutions and to encourage other nations and organisations to be involved. It will be important, for instance, to work with countries that had the ability -- but foreswore it -- to acquire nuclear capabilities, such as Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and South Africa. These countries were invited to join the G-8 for a luncheon at the London meeting, along with China and the Philippines.

We also intend to work very closely with Germany and Japan, two countries whom we are actively supporting for permanent membership in the UN Security Council and which did not acquire their world power status by testing nuclear weapons. We will remain focussed on regional and security institutions such as NATO, ASEAN, the OAU, and OAS, and the membership of the NAM, to name just a few. And we will continue to take advantage of our vast array of bilateral exchanges, such as we have done with the visit by the French prime minister to Washington, and as we will with President Clinton's upcoming trip to China.

This type of engagement will be necessary to demonstrate continued international resolve, to provide India and Pakistan with examples of the rewards of alternative courses of action, and to ensure continuity of message to both countries. By way of example, we have taken advantage of the meetings held thus far to garner international consensus behind an approach to both India and Pakistan within the International Financial Institutions, which comports well with our own approach under the sanctions regime. The G-8 will continue to work collectively to support postponement of loans to both countries for any purpose other than meeting basic human needs.

In the case of India alone, more than $ 1 billion worth of loans have been postponed thus far, which is having a ripple effect in the Indian economy and is resulting in decreased investor confidence. This is not something, I hasten to add, that we envisioned in our interaction with India that I referred to at the beginning of my testimony. Our hope had been to build a strong economic relationship with both India and Pakistan, based on increasing levels of trade and their requirements for infrastructure and other investment. These hopes have been dealt a severe blow.

Mr Chairman, for our part and for the foreseeable future, we must continue to implement firmly our sanctions policy. At the same time, we must be prepared to help both India and Pakistan reduce tensions if they are prepared to do so. The United States and our partners in the P-5 and G-8 have pledged to fulfill our obligation to prevent destabilising transfers of arms and sensitive technologies to South Asia. We stand ready to share our expertise and capabilities to help India and Pakistan monitor military activities and avoid miscalculations, and above all, to assist the two in settling their differences.

We look forward, for example, to the upcoming meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, which will occur in Colombo in July, and could provide an opportunity for Prime Minister Vajpayee and Prime Minister Sharief to hold face-to-face talks. We urge the two prime ministers to seize this opportunity and to adopt and announce confidence building measures or other areas of agreement between them.

Finally, I would like to make a fundamental point. While we do not accept the rationales given by Indian and Pakistan for testing or possessing nuclear weapons and believe that the tests have diminished their security, we must continue to recognise that as sovereign nations, both India and Pakistan have legitimate security concerns and interests, and we must bear that in mind as we move forward. We have far too many national interests at stake to do anything other than engage under these terms.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl F Inderfurth made this statement before the panel on nuclear proliferation in India and Pakistan.

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