WHILE nuclear tensions tighten on the Korean peninsula, the
Clinton administration is quietly trying to stop an arms race now
developing in another part of the world: South Asia.
Worried that bitter rivals India and Pakistan are on the verge
of major advances in their weapons programs, administration
officials have put together a package of arms control initiatives
that US diplomats plan to proffer in the region over the next few
Parts of the package - notably a proposed sale of F-16s to
Pakistan - will be controversial in Congress. Strained relations
between the US and India pose a further problem.
But the stakes are increasing daily. According to US
intelligence reports, both India and Pakistan are working hard on
long-range ballistic missiles and both already have the capability
to produce nuclear weapons.
"It's not a static situation," notes John Holum, head of the
US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
Analysts have long considered South Asia a highly dangerous
nuclear flash point. It is the only part of the world where
adversaries presumed to have indigenous nuclear arsenals face each
other across a tense border. Fighting over the disputed region of
Kashmir continues to loom as a possible spark to wider conflict.
It is probably too late to preach the virtues of nuclear
nonproliferation on the Indian subcontinent. Rather, US officials
appear to be trying to push India and Pakistan in the direction of
capping and then managing their nascent nuclear capabilities.
Missile development is a particular worry. If married to nuclear
warheads, surface-to-surface missiles could become fearsome
Currently, India is thought to be working on two missile
systems: the Prithvi, with a 207 mile range, and the 900-mile Agni.
Western nations suspect Pakistan, for its part, may have Chinese
M-11 missiles with a 207-mile range, as well as a 50-to-100-mile
With deployment of some of these missiles perhaps only months
away, Washington is intensifying its involvement in South Asian
Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott will visit the region
next month and propose the new US arms-control plan in both the
capitals of Islamabad and New Delhi.
As now envisioned by the administration, the plan has a number
of separate steps:
* One calls for both India and Pakistan to agree not to deploy
surface-to-surface missiles. …