Rediff Logo News Chat banner Find/Feedback/Site Index
June 11, 1998


E-Mail this story to a friend

US may respond to India's non-proliferation proposals

The Clinton administration now appears willing to respond to the Vajpayee government's non-proliferation proposals, raising the prospects of a dialogue between the two countries on the situation arising out of India's nuclear tests against which the US had lodged a strong protest.

An indication to this effect was given by secretary of state Madeleine Albright in her speech on 'Arms control in the 21st century' at the Henry L Stimson Centre, a Washington-based think tank, yesterday.

She took note of India's willingness to participate in the negotiations on the proposed international treaty on the cut-off of fissile material used in the manufacture of atomic weapons. ''We are pleased that India has now said it is willing to participate in these negotiations. We believe Pakistan should follow suit,'' she added.

Albright, who leaves for London later in the day to attend the extended meeting of the Group of Eight industrial nations (G-8), scheduled to discuss the situation in the Indian subcontinent, noted the obvious: the nuclear tests cannot be undone.

However, she felt that the ''resulting risks and disruptions can be minimised if cooler heads and clearer thinking now prevail.''

In her speech, she said, ''We are pressing every country in the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament to begin negotiating the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty."

She said, ''The rhetoric in New Delhi and Islamabad seems to be quieting. Calls for renewing their bilateral dialogue are increasing. And, both sides say they have no present plans for further tests.''

She, however, said, ''These steps are nowhere near enough. The world community was urging leaders in New Delhi and Islamabad to forswear any future tests and to refrain from deploying nuclear weapons or from testing missiles capable of delivering them.''

''Further, we have been calling upon both the countries to join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, without condition, to stop producing fissile material and join in negotiating a worldwide pact to refrain from deploying missiles and to formalise their pledges not to export any material or technology that could be used to build nuclear weapons or their delivery systems,'' Albright added.

She said, ''India and Pakistan should take such measures not as a favour to the world community but because it is in the security interests of each to do so. And, in considering their next steps, they should realise that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will not be amended to include them as nuclear weapons states.''

''This is a fundamental -- for the NPT is fundamental to nuclear non-proliferation. A generation ago, it was predicted the world would have twenty to thirty nuclear states. No measure has done more than the NPT to prevent that. If we were to allow India and Pakistan to test their way to nuclear status under that agreement, we would create an incentive for others to follow their misguided example,'' she observed.

The secretary said she had discussions earlier in the day with a large number of US senators on how to implement the economic sanctions that the Clinton administration had imposed under the Glenn Amendment on India and Pakistan after their nuclear tests.

She said there was a large area of agreement between the administration and the law-makers on how to make the sanction work, without harming the American interests. Instead of using sanctions as a blunt instrument, there would be a necessary flexibility in their implementation, she added.

She wanted to set up a working group comprising lawmakers and administrators to ensure greater partnership between the two wings.


Tell us what you think of this report