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Games the nuclear elite plays - The Observer

Dina Nath Mishra ()
October 15, 1998

Title: Games the nuclear elite plays
Author: Dina Nath Mishra
Publication: The Observer
Date: October 15, 1998

Five months have passed after Pokhran-II. Hypocritical
condemnations of India for its tests by 'nuclear-haves' have
been totally been exposed. Had US, Britain, Russia, France and
China been serious and sincere about their commitments, tests In
the Indian subcontinent should have been utilised as a great
opportunity to move towards nuclear disarmament. They should
have demonstrated real leadership on this front, but did not.

On the contrary, it is apparent that these countries with the
biggest and the most diverse nuclear arsenal feel the need to
keep improving and testing them. They have all along been busy
in increasing expensive stockpile of nuclear warheads. They
argued with India that nuclear weapons would not enhance its
security, but they have no inclination to phase out their own

Foreign ministers of the nuclear-haves, called P-5, had issued a
Joint communique in the first week of June. It was full of
sermons for South Asia. The whole approach was to paint it as
an arena of regional conflict. Their prescriptions Included the
following: Sign the CTBT unconditionally; don't weaponise or
deploy nuclear weapons or missiles; don't export equipment,
materials or technology that could lead to proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction; refrain from developing the
delivery system; don't indulge in arms race.

Nuclear disarmament is a global challenge. It was basically
caused by US and USSR during the Cold War. Others had to follow.
After the dismemberment of USSR, nuclear disarmament needs
leadership for any serious and sincere efforts, and needs to be
led by US and other nuclear-haves. But the P-5 stand on the
serious issue of nuclear disarmament was devoid of practical
steps. It offers nothing in terms of nuclear disarmament. Which,
in a way, is a reciprocal component of CTBT and NPT.

An opportunity had come just after the Cold War. But it was not
utilised. The tests in India and Pakistan have again brought
about the climate to do away with the menace looming large on
the very survival of humanity. But nuclear states are not
inclined to take any step. They are not ready to de-weaponise i
e to remove warheads from delivery vehicles and store them
separately and are not ready to put them under international

Key tests, of course, would be to delegitimise nuclear weapons.
But P,5 countries are, not ready even to marginalise them in
military and political considerations. If the world has to close
down the nuclear clubs altogether, there must be visible
symptoms from the nuclear-haves. As far India is concerned, it
has called for a nuclear weapon convention to move towards that
end. But what do we find in the attitude of P-5? Duplicity,
dishonesty and discriminatory regime are the corner-stones of
their nuclear policy.

Which country is the biggest beneficiary of the arms race? The
US has the biggest arms Industry. It has been the backbone of
the US economy for decades. It has vested Interests in the
continuance of arms race in the various regions of the world.
This industry has earned a number of client countries. Chinese
nuclear capability has been assisted by the US at various

Nuclear powers, as well as economic powers, did not share
India's threat perceptions. US has been the champion of
democracy, and yet it has preferred non-democratic countries and
treated them as most favoured ones. In Afghanistan, Taliban has
been fighting with US arms. The US knows it well that thousands
of Pak-armed forces are there among the Taliban. Still, the US
dares lecture on peace. Islamic terrorism has been patronised by
the client countries of US. But this does not deter the US from
mouthing anti-terrorist sermons. When Islamic terrorists hit US
targets, it opts for an open missile attack on them. And yet it
advises India not to attack terrorist-training camps across the
border despite the fact that India has been suffering from Pak-
aided terrorism in the northernmost state of J&K for over a
decade. Double standards and the discriminatory nuclear regime
of P-5 and India's threat perceptions left India with no option
but to go nuclear.

After Pokhran-I in 1974, India has waited long to see what steps
nuclear weapon states were going to take for nuclear
disarmament. Prime Minister Vajpayee explained the position of
the Indian state at various national and International ford. He
said, t global level we see no evidence on the part of nuclear
weapon states to take decisive and irreversible steps in moving
towards a nuclear weapon free world. Instead, the NPT has beep
extended Indefinitely and unconditionally, perpetuating the
existence of nuclear weapons in the hands of the five
countries'. It has also announced that India will now observe
voluntary moratorium on tests. It has committed not to use it as
a weapon of aggression or threat. There is no reason to believe
that US or Britain would be more tactful regarding handling of
warheads than India. US is the only country so far which has
used it.

The chorus of condemnations from May 11 and the spate of
economic sanctions against India in between are not going to
force India to sign CTBT in its present form. India has
withstood economic sanctions. Gradual mellowing down of
pressure is bound to happen. In fact, it has already started. By
tomorrow, the world is going to accept India as a nuclear power.
Our country is not in a hurry to climb the nuclear escalator.
But we should certainly go for weaponisation and delivery
systems. Only those who don't am the vulnerable position in the
volatile nuclearised regions in the north and the west can think
of waiting for sanctions to be lifted before moving towards
logical directions shown by Pokhran II. As far as the sanctions
are concerned, looking at the related development In US and
elsewhere, India should be ready for a longer period of economic
sanctions. India is a big country which has a resident economy.
India can withstand economic sanctions without much of a

But the problem of the weapons of mass destruction remains. In
this regard, a few words of Rebecca Jackson, executive director
of the Acronym Institute are of great importance. 'The timing of
India's test may have been only coincidentally related to the
NPT's second preparatory committee meeting in Geneva, but the
message from the meeting's stalemate was certainly underlined by
the tests. NPT regime cannot be taken for granted. Where non-
proliferation based on possession of nuclear weapons by self-
selected elite of haves was never desired or accepted by large
majority of countries, India and Pakistan have exposed the
fragility and unsustainability of such an Imbalance. What are
the options?' The only option is to utilise this opportunity and
move towards totally nuclear arms free globe.

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