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HVK Archives: If Clinton comes with respect, he will be welcome

If Clinton comes with respect, he will be welcome - The Sunday Observer

Abhijit Sinha ()
June 7-13, 1998

Title: f Clinton comes with respect, he will be welcome. If
not, I don think he should come to India at all (Interview
with Arundhati Ghose)
Author: Abhijit Sinha
Publication: The Sunday Observer
Date: June 7-13, 1998

After succinctly, and successfully, putting across to the world
at large India's viewpoint about the negative approach of the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its corollaries - the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cut-Off
Treaty - Arundhati Ghose retired from the external affairs
ministry in November 1997 amidst a blaze of publicity. Possibly,
as she says, because the Western media were flummoxed that a
sprightly 'five-foot-nothing took on a six-foot-seven Goliath in
Geneva ".

Her freewheeling interview with Abhijit Sinha showed that Ghose
has lost neither her speed nor her felicity with words. At
present, she is targetting a wide spectrum of projects with no
grants attached - on non-proliferation, the politics of human
rights, and any subject that arouses her ire. In the interview
she scored several points - at the expense of the Big Five - on
the need for a test moratorium endorsed by Parliament.
Excerpts..

Q: How do you view President Clinton's visit to India in the
light of the US government's anti-India diatribe vis-a-vis the
cajoling tone adopted for Pakistan?
A: My recommendation to President Clinton would be: Do not visit
India unless you change your mindset, develop some respect for
our country, sit and be briefed about what India is by people who
know India, and not by people who have never visited India -
Sandy Berger or Strobe Talbott.

If Clinton comes with respect, he will be welcome. If he does
not, if he comes in the vein he is planning - to bring up Kashmir
in Geneva - I don't think he should come to India at all.

We are not important enough in their scenario. There's nothing
he can give us. He has already put sanctions on us whatever he
can. So what is he going to do - come and lift them?

Q: Is China interested in arms control or is it going with the
other nuclear "haves"?
A: Let me quote an anecdote. During the CTBT talks in Geneva, my
Chinese counterpart said: Not much is going to come out of this
conference that will be to India's or China's interest. But don't
withdraw. Stay there and limit the damage. The wind is blowing
>from one side. You will have to live with the wind for at least
15 years. This is China's way of looking at the problem. But
they have their veto in the Security Council as well as their
nuclear weapons. We have neither.

Their strategy of keeping us limited to the south of the
Himalayas did not work. After the tests by India the
relationship became triangular and not just bilateral - India
versus Pakistan. Their attempt is to make it go back, which is
why they are working with the United States to resurrect Kashmir
as an international subject to bring it all back to the sub-
Himalayan relationship. This is why China keeps talking about
South Asia whereas, with an ICBM, South Asia has no meaning at
all for China.

In a sense, the economic sanctions are helping us to focus on
what is of our interest. It's a bad thing to have sanctions, but
a good psychological thing internally. I am in favour of that.

Q: What were the key issues on which India decided it could not
accept the CTBT?
A: First, the treaty was not at all comprehensive. It did not
cover all nuclear tests. Moreover, it was not a test ban treaty -
because it permitted certain types of tests. This duplicity of
the nuclear-weapon states was not realized by those of us who
went in for negotiations, thinking this treaty would ban all
nuclear weapon tests and thereby render existing nuclear weapons
obsolete and gradually move towards elimination.

The second issue was that during the negotiations it was not
explicit in the treaty but implicit in the negotiations while
being explicit in the verbatim records that the Big Five nuclear-
weapon states of that time had no intention of ever giving up
what they considered to be part of an international power
structure.

The third point, again general point, was that the CTBT, like the
proposed FMCT, are not just corollaries but adjuncts to the NPT.
They flow from the NPT. They have no relevance to those who have
signed the NPT. They are meant to control those who are not
members of the NPT. Together, this triad of agreements makes the
current nuclear regime unequal.

Q: Our primary objection to the CTBT was that it is not a
disarmament treaty. Now, we have not only tested but also
declared our intention to weaponize. How do you reconcile these
two divergent stands?
A: There's no divergence. As it happens I made the statement on
behalf of the government. None of these statements were mine. At
that point, I was part of the government. We said that our
security environment is such that we will not accept any
restraints on our developments because this treaty is a dangerous
treaty. We said that in so many words. Anybody' who had listened
to us carefully, at home or abroad, would have known that a
series of tests were in the offing.

There is a third element to ,our stand - our security. We cannot
compromise on that as long as the Big Five continue to hold their
nuclear weapons.

We have to take into account the threat of use - of coercion -
which they used in 1971. We were coerced. We did not give in, as
it happened. Any country is open to coercion. It could be
economic sanctions. It could be nuclear weapons. You cannot have
a country like India, wit its size and geopolitical location, not
protecting ourselves from a potentially coercive world. Mind you,
coercion coming from these five countries only.

Don't forget that a very, very large number of countries exist
under the nuclear umbrella of these five countries. Pakistan is
under the Chinese nuclear umbrella, in a technical sense I
suppose. Take the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - all of
western Europe, even Australia and Japan, are under its nuclear
umbrella. If their security is guaranteed by nuclear weapons,
what do they expect us to do about our security?

What we had said was: For your security, for international
security, and most important, for our security, let us eliminate
nuclear weapons. If you don't, then there are no restraints on
us. And therefore we test.

We had the choice in 1974. We could have weaponized then, but we
took a political choice saying, "No, this way it is better for
us. China weaponized. We still said it is better for us to press
for elimination because if there are no nuclear weapons, our
security is safe.

For 25 years - we discovered at the end of the CTBT talks
whatever we have tried has been dismissed contemptuously, even to
the extent of ignoring India saying that we have security
problems.

For 25 years, we adopted a moral argument because we still
adhered to the concepts of Mahatma Gandhi and our reactions
against Hiroshima-Nagasaki. Our foreign policy was based on the
principle that our independence was a moral victory, not just a
political one. We found that moral suasion did not work in a
world of moral chicanery.

For how long can India accept a situation where there are nuclear
weapons in the Gulf - an extremely unstable region from where we
get most of our oil? It is very important to us. Ships with
nuclear weapons are there and in the Indian Ocean. There is a
nuclear-weapon state to our north. Of course, I am not aware of
this country having threatened us. But there is no doubt that
[it] was helping a hostile neighbour to [go] nuclear - which
today Pakistan is. In such a situation what should we do?

Q: After the five tests, a number of persons - both in and out of
government - have been suggesting that India should now sign the
CTBT. What is your view?
A: I am appalled that anybody in government is suggesting that we
should sign the same flawed treaty. Someone spoke of amendments
- there can be no amendments or change in a treaty till you
sign... so join it. So you join a flawed treaty and then start
negotiating whether you can amend it? This is lunacy.

The CTBT is not even worth the paper it is written on. I put in
a lot of personal effort and would have loved to be a part-author
to the treaty. It would have given me personal satisfaction.
Today, if anyone says we should sign the CTBT, either that person
has not read the entire treaty or does not understand the world
situation in which the treaty exists. The CTBT does not exist in
a vacuum. It exists in a particular nuclear regime.

Q: India has declared a unilateral moratorium outside the CTBT.
Will a conditional approval of the moratorium by the G-8
countries guarantee India's arms control strategy?

A unilateral moratorium is a good step, as suggested by Prime
Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. It is rubbish to think that only
the CTBT can bring about a moratorium. If India signs the CTBT,
we will also be recognizing Para 5 - Chapter on General
Provisions - which gives legislative standing to espionage. It is
called the National Technical Means. Why the devil should we do
it?

Frankly, the G-8 does not care a damn about our future. So they
are not the guarantee to our security.

In 1962, when we were attacked by China, we asked for security
guarantees and were turned down. This information comes from a
government document placed on the table of Parliament.

Now it's 1998! Will 950 million people of a sovereign country
have to ask the G-8 for security guarantees? Then we should
disband our army and get under the nuclear umbrella. That would
save so much money.

If we put the moratorium, "no first use", and "no use against non-
nuclear-weapon states" as a [parliamentary] resolution stating
India's nuclear posture, we don't need to know what the G-8
feels.

The economic sanctions is a different ballgame. As far as the
United States is concerned, India has broken no law except their
own law passed by their own parliament. The common man is
naturally worried if the price of rice is going to go up because
of sanctions. So explain the conditions and how we will deal with
that. And not one of that common mass is saying sign the CTBT
because of the sanctions. In 1962, women of our country gave up
gold ornaments. People are ready to make any amount of sacrifices
to defend the country's honour.

Who are these people going around saying sign the CTBT to avoid
sanctions? Sign the NPT. You will get everything. Sanctions will
be lifted, a nuclear umbrella provided. It's only, that 25 years
of efforts oar developing our own science and technology will go
waste.

Let me be kinder. A lot of these people have suffered greatly due
to the sanctions on dual use and hi-tech science. They are not
strategists. They are not in-charge of military security. They
need the technology.

For two years the Big Five held parallel negotiations to the
Conference for Disarmament, and came up with a package called
CTBT which they wanted the rest of us to sign. And we called them
hypocrites. Now we go and join them to avoid sanctions?


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