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August 19, 1999
US Sharpens Attack Against India
C K Arora in Washington
The Clinton administration sharpened its attack against India's proposed nuclear doctrine, insisting that the document "describes the Indian desire to develop a nuclear arsenal" which, in the United States' view, militates against the security interests of India itself, the subcontinent, the US and the world.
The US also dismisses the view that India needs such a deterrent to avert "possible nuclear blackmail by China".
In reply to a question, State Department spokesman James Rubin said, "The US had received the draft of India's national nuclear arms doctrine that was made public in New Delhi on Tuesday. We are studying it.
"In general, we don't find it an encouraging document, we find it a document that describes the Indian desire to develop a nuclear arsenal, and that is something that we think is not in the security interests of India, the subcontinent, or the United States or the world."
He was asked to comment on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra's reported remark that India's nuclear tests and its nuclear programme were intended "to counter possible threats of nuclear blackmail from China". Rubin said, ''Well, at the time when India first detonated its nuclear device, some Indian officials made that claim. And I think you're quite familiar with what we thought of that claim.
"We didn't agree with it," he said. "So, we still don't agree with it. Nothing has changed in our view."
Detailing the US non-proliferation efforts, Rubin said the Clinton administration would continue to urge India to sign and ratify this Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, not to weaponise missiles and stop production of fissile material.
He said the US would also urge India to develop an export-control system. The combination of these efforts was "certainly not consistent with the broad outlines of this [Indian] doctrine as we know it," he said.
"So, the United States does not buy that India has to counter Chinese nuclear threats by this particular doctrine," the spokesman was asked.
Rubin, in reply, said, "There's nothing new about China having nuclear weapons. They have had them for a long, long time, since about the time that I was born. And that did not generate the need for India to develop and test nuclear weapons." he said. "They [the Indians], obviously, made the decision based on other factors, in our opinion, and that that [China] wasn't the key factor.''
On Tuesday, Rubin had said that ''it would be unwise [for India] to move in the direction of developing a nuclear deterrent and encouraging thereby the other country [Pakistan] to develop a nuclear deterrent and thereby creating an action-reaction cycle that will increase the risks to both countries.''
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