India is taking a lot of flak these days because of its
publicly proclaimed refusal to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty. Indeed, The Washington Post has described India as a
"spoiler" for standing in the way of an accord many see as a
necessary first step if nuclear weapons are ever to be eliminated.
This perception certainly will be enhanced by the public
repudiation of the treaty in its present form by India's external
affairs minister, Kumar Gujral, after his July 25 meeting with
Secretary of State Warren Christopher at the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.
India's reasons for assuming this stance - its legitimate
security concerns - deserve a measure of sympathetic understanding.
New Delhi not unreasonably perceives an implicit double
standard in provisions of the treaty that would determine who would
and who would not be permitted to retain a nuclear option. The five
nations that now possess nuclear arsenals (the United States,
France, Britain, Russia and China) are allowed to retain them for
whatever period of time it takes for them to figure out how to
fully disarm. During what will surely be a protracted (perhaps even
a permanent) interregnum, the privileged five would retain a
decisive de facto strategic edge over the nuclear have-not nations.
In this context, what are the concerns that have gotten such
short shrift from the United States' nuclear wonks?
China: India already has gone to war once with China, in 1962,
over still unresolved territorial and political differences such as
Tibet. In an atmosphere of mutual distrust, India faces a severe
military disadvantage if it forsakes its nuclear option while China
remains a nuclear power. This has special poignancy in the face of
China's relucta nce to sign the treaty unless its strict inspection
requirements are diluted.
Pakistan: India has already fought three wars against
Islamabad's U.S.-equipped army. Pakistan is obsessed with hatred of
India, actively supports Kashmiri separatism and doggedly pursues a
nuclear capability while blatantly ignoring all attempts by the
United States and the international community to get it to desist
from doing so.
China/Pakistan: Considering China's existing nuclear capability
and Pakistan's potential for nuclear capability (thanks especially
to China's cynical and illegal technology transfers to Pakistan),
is it so surprising that India balks at signing a comprehensive
test ban treaty that implicitly brushes aside these compelling
security concerns? Especially when many Indians are convinced that
Washington privately winks at this unsavory relationship because it
creates a mini-cordon sanitaire around India as a means of curbing
its regional assertiveness. …