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September 14, 2000
Accept India as a nuclear state, US expert tells Clinton
Nitish S Rele in Florida
Bury the differences and accept India as a nuclear state. This is the message Selig S Harrison has for Bill Clinton when the US president hosts Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the White House this week.
In a September 12 Los Angeles Times editorial on the Op-Ed page, the former South Asia bureau chief for The Washington Post is urging removal of sanctions imposed on India after the 1998 nuclear tests.
Harrison also wants the US to relax the existing ban on the sale of civilian nuclear reactions badly needed by India for its growing energy needs. 'Indians find it galling that China is permitted to buy US reactions, while India is not,' writes Harrison, now a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Instead of punishing India, Harrison would like the US to work with New Delhi over the size and character of its nuclear arsenal. He feels that moderate elements in the Indian leadership who favour nuclear restraint can be won over by a more relaxed relationship with New Delhi.
'For example, the continuation of sanctions makes it impossible for the Indian government to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without appearing to surrender to foreign pressure,' wrote Harrison.
On the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Harrison points out that Hans Blix, a former International Atomic Energy Agency director, has urged that the ban on civilian nuclear sales to both India and Pakistan should be lifted if the two countries are willing to make two major concessions: sign the test ban and agree to freeze their stockpiles of weapons-grade fissile material at present levels.
'There is nothing in the NPT that would stand in the way of such an arrangement,' said Blix at a Stockholm seminar, and as matters stand, 'India and Pakistan are most unlikely to discard whatever nuclear weapons capacity they possess. There is even a clear risk of a race between them to increase fissile material stocks.'
Harrison believes it is time the US recognises that Asia can be stable if India has a minimum nuclear deterrent rather than one in which China enjoys a nuclear monopoly.
rediff.com has assigned Associate Editors Amberish K Diwanji and Savera R Someshwar to cover Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the United States. Don't forget to log into rediff.com for news of this historic visit as it happens!
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