India, Pakistan Respond to Arms Control Initiatives

By Diamond, Howard | Arms Control Today, June/July 1998 | Go to article overview

India, Pakistan Respond to Arms Control Initiatives


Diamond, Howard, Arms Control Today


IN THE WEEKS following their May nuclear tests, India and Pakistan appear to be responding positively to international calls that both countries participate more fully in global non-proliferation efforts and move to diffuse South Asia's most dangerous nuclear crisis to date. The United States, which took the lead in galvanizing international condemnation of the tests and imposed the harshest economic sanctions, has initiated new bilateral talks with both countries and has sought to soften the application of U.S. sanctions to induce New Delhi and Islamabad to move quickly.

Insistent that India and Pakistan not be allowed to "test their way" to nuclear-weapon-state status, the Clinton administration has said that sanctions will not be lifted unless India and Pakistan make progress on the international arms control agenda agreed to by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the five recognized nuclear-weapon states) and the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries. (See ACT, May 1998.) Included on that agenda are India's and Pakistan's immediate and unconditional signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); their participation in negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) on a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for weapons purposes; their renewal of bilateral talks, including the issue of Kashmir; and steps to de-escalate their nuclear weapon and ballistic missile rivalry, particularly the non-deployment of nuclear weapons and a halt to missile testing.

Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott completed a third round of separate talks with Indian and Pakistani officials July 19 to 23, spending two and a half days in New Delhi before going to Islamabad on July 21. On July 30, Munir Akram, Pakistan's ambassador to the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament announced that during Talbott's July 21-23 meetings, Islamabad agreed to support the commencement of cutoff talks at the CD. (See p. 27.) Negotiating principally with Jaswant Singh, the Indian prime minister's special envoy, and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed, Talbott held earlier meetings in India on June 12 and July 9-10 with Singh, and on June 29 with Ahmed and on July 6 with Pakistani special envoy Sahabzada Yaqub Khan. On July 11, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that a decision to sign the CTBT would be made independently of what India doesa significant departure from past Pakistani policy.

India is intent on deploying a "minimum deterrent" and, according to a July 7 New York Times report, an official of the prime minister's office said New Delhi will reject proposals that it not test ballistic missiles or develop a nuclear force. India has already declared a unilateral moratorium on further nuclear testing (as has Pakistan). The official said India would sign the CTBT without demanding the treaty be rewritten once it had determined "what we can get," and that New Delhi is ready to make a binding international pledge not to transfer nuclear technology and is willing to participate in cutoff talks at the CD. On July 21, The Washington Times reported that India will continue to insist that the United States recognize India as a nuclear power, support its campaign to win a permanent seat on the Security Council, lift all proliferationrelated sanctions and end the prohibition on civil nuclear commerce with India.

Moderating Sanctions

New Delhi and Islamabad are not only seeking to mend relations damaged by their nuclear tests, but are trying to expedite the lifting of international economic sanctions, whose total cost has been estimated by Washington at $4 billion for Pakistan and $20 billion for India. …

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