No question of blindly signing the CTBT, aver experts
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Experts at the ministry of external affairs today expressed surprise at reports that India was inching towards signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and underscored that this could not be done without safeguarding the country's security interests.
These experts, comprising former diplomats who had held important posts in South Block, pointed out that developments over the last few days indicated that except for the 'accidental' meeting in New York between the US deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Jaswant Singh, nothing spectacular had happened to compel India to sign the CTBT unconditionally.
They said after the fourth round of talks between Talbott and Singh in Washington recently, it was officially announced that the Indo-US dialogue was constructive and progressing well. This indicated that there was going to be a certain amount of give and take between both parties.
However, these experts pointed out that what this "trade-off" would be had not been made public as yet. They said Indian official pronouncements in the recent past indicated that India would not use nuclear weapons in the first instance.
Secondly, India would not transfer nuclear weapons technology to any third country, a practice which was continuing from the beginning.
Lastly, India would acquire a minimum nuclear deterrence for protecting its national security interests.
It was pointed out that in these circumstances, the bottomline in the Indo-US negotiations would be India being acknowledged as a nuclear weapon power and on par with the P-5 countries.
Secondly, the negotiations would have to take into consideration India's accessibility to dual-use (nuclear) technology from the developed world, the experts pointed out.
And lastly, the Indo-US negotiations would have to consider removing economic sanctions imposed on Idnia by the G-8 in the wake of Pokhran II, they said.
It was also stressed that besides, there were unconfirmed reports from Washington and New Delhi that India's permanent membership on UN Security Council was also being talked about. Therefore, India acceding to signing the CTBT would mean that the US had agreed in principle to all these Indian demands or at least some of them.
Sreedhar of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses agreed with this appraisal. He pointed out that the ground situation indicated that the economic sanctions were found to be ineffective. Unlike Pakistan's economy, India had not gone off in a tail-spin. Similarly, the embargo on dual-use technology had initially created some problems but the Indian scientific community took this as a challenge and the fabrication of the supercomputer was one example of neutralising the adverse effect of the embargo, he pointed out.
He also maintained that the repeated statements of Defence Research and Development Organisation chief Dr A P J Abdul Kalam that India was going ahead with Prithvi III and Agni II missile projects, indicated that the country's nuclear and missile programmes were progressing smoothly to meet its security requirements. Therefore, India would be entering the 21st century with being adequately prepared to meet the challenges on the nuclear and missile technology fronts, he said.
Tell us what you think of this report