|Karl F. Inderfurth
Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs
Testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
May 13, 1998, Washington, DC
Mr. Chairman, before I begin, I will, with your permission, read the President's statement this morning in Germany announcing his decision to invoke sanctions against India for conducting nuclear tests:
On Wednesday, May 13, 1998, the President reported to Congress that he had imposed sanctions on India as a consequence of that country's May 11 nuclear test explosion. These sanctions were required by Section 102 of the Arms Export Control Act, otherwise known as the Glenn Amendment. The sanctions imposed are as follows:
- termination of assistance under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, except for humanitarian assistance for food or other agricultural commodities;
- termination of sales of defense articles, defense services, or design and construction services under the Arms Export Control Act, and termination of licenses for the export of any item on the United States munitions list;
- termination of all foreign military financing under the Arms Export Control Act;
- denial of any credit, credit guarantees, or other financial assistance by any department, agency or instrumentality of the United States Government;
- the United States opposition to the extension of any loan for financial or technical assistance by any international financial institution;
- prohibition of United States banks from making any loan or providing any credit to the Government of India, except for the purposes of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities; and
- prohibition of export of specific goods and technology subject to export licensing by the Commerce Department.Finally, the Secretary of State is making a similar determination under Section 2 (b) (4) of the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945; thereafter, the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank may not give approval to guarantee, insure, or extend credit, or participate in the extension of credit, in support of United States exports to India.
Now, Mr. Chairman, let me return to my statement. I am deeply disappointed that I am compelled to deliver testimony that is far different from what you and I had originally envisioned when we began planning for this hearing. I had hoped and expected to talk about our efforts to move forward with India, across a full range of issues, and to establish a new relationship befitting the size and strength of our two democracies. As you know, however, recent events in India have altered significantly the message that I am delivering today, and will affect far more than just our discussion. These events will have a significant impact on the substance of our relationship with India and our overall approach to the South Asia region.
On May 11, 1998, India announced that it conducted three underground nuclear tests. An official Indian spokesman said that these detonations occurred simultaneously, about 330 miles southwest of New Delhi, some 70 miles from the Pakistani border at the Pokhran testing facility--the same location where India conducted its first test in 1974. On May 13, just this morning, the Indian Government announced that it had conducted two more tests at Pokhran. After the first tests, the spokesman amplified that the tests were of a fission device, a low-yield device, and a thermonuclear device. This morning, a spokesman said that, "two more sub-kiloton nuclear tests were carried out."
The official Indian spokesman stated that the first tests were intended "to establish that India has a proven capability for a weaponized nuclear program." He added that, "the Government is deeply concerned, as were previous governments, about the deteriorating nuclear environment in India's neighborhood," and that, "these tests provide reassurance to the people of India that their national security interests are paramount, and will be promoted and protected." After the second tests, the spokesman said that, "the tests have been carried out to generate additional data for improved computer simulation of designs, and for attaining the capability to carry out subcritical elements, if considered necessary."
Indian officials, in contacts with us after the first tests, have been more specific. They have cited a variety of issues as a rationale for testing--all of which, I should add, we firmly reject as providing sufficient justification for this most unwise act. Specifically, they have pointed to unresolved border problems with China, to great concern over China's ties with Pakistan, and to what they view as continuing hostility from Pakistan and Pakistani support for terrorism in the disputed territory of Kashmir. We cannot see, Mr. Chairman, how any of these concerns will be effectively addressed by testing nuclear weapons. We have also heard the argument from Indian officials that Indian military capabilities are no longer respected in the region, and, thus, these series of tests were necessary. We find that too, to be unpersuasive as a rationale, despite the reaction from India itself, where the decision to test has been greeted almost universally within India with firm support, bordering on euphoria.
Mr. Chairman, the international community clearly rejects India's decision to conduct these tests. Reaction by other nations has been swift and uniformly negative, and it accords with the sentiment that you, Mr. Chairman, and your colleagues, Senators Feinstein and Glenn, expressed in the resolution that you introduced last night condemning India's actions. To give just a flavor of what has been said, Japan--the largest bilateral donor of economic assistance to India--denounced the tests, urged India to stop development of nuclear weapons immediately, announced a suspension of grant aid and undertook consideration of suspending loans, and indicated its intention to bring the issue before the G-8 meeting in Birmingham. China expressed its "grave concern," and pointed out that the test would be detrimental to peace and security in South Asia. Malaysia deplored the action, calling it a setback to international efforts to ban testing. Russian President Yeltsin criticized the tests, saying that, "India has let us down." Ukraine invoked the tragic memory of Chernobyl to underscore its view that the test was unjustified. Canada's Foreign Minister called these tests "a very major, regressive step backward." Both Australia and New Zealand have lodged official protests with India, and have recalled their ambassadors. France voiced its concern, as did Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. South Africa--a long-time friend of India, and a country uniquely placed to comment, having given up its own nuclear program--likewise expressed its deep concern. United Nations Secretary General Annan expressed his "deep regret," and noted that the test was inconsistent with international norms.
The reaction of the United States has been equally swift and determined. I have already read to you the President's statement from this morning. Yesterday, the President stated that he was "deeply disturbed by the nuclear tests," and that he does not believe that India's action "contributes to building a safer 21st century." The President added that "this action by India not only threatens the stability of the region, it directly challenges the firm international consensus to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." The President called upon India "to announce that it will conduct no further tests, and it will sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty now and without conditions." The Secretary of State exercised her own authority to invoke EXIM bank sanctions, and announced that we have recalled Ambassador Celeste to Washington for consultations.
The President's action today places sanctions against India pursuant to Section 102 of the Arms Export Control Act, otherwise known as the Glenn amendment. These sanctions, which meet the terms that you, Mr. Chairman, and your colleagues put forth in your resolution, will place stiff penalties on India, and will affect a wide cross-section of our current activities in India, including development assistance, military sales and exchanges, trade in specified dual-use goods and technology, U.S. loans, guarantees, and credits to India; loans and credits by U.S. banks to the Government of India; and support for India within the International Financial Institutions. As this is the first-ever instance in which we have invoked the Glenn amendment, we are in some respects entering uncharted territory. We are working hard, and will keep you and your colleagues fully informed, as we develop the mechanisms and procedures for implementing these sanctions. I am certain that India will soon understand the far-reaching impact of the President's decision. For instance, our current level of development assistance to India is approximately $143 million; by global standards, this is not a particularly large figure, and a substantial portion of it is PL-480 food aid, for which there is a specific exemption under the law. But, it does represent by far our largest program in South Asia. The requirement to oppose loans and assistance in the international financial institutions could potentially cost India billions of dollars in desperately needed financing for infrastructure and other projects. The prohibition on loans by U.S. banks to the Government of India, and on EXIM and OPIC activities, could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, affect projects already approved or in the pipeline, and could cause major U.S. companies and financial institutions to rethink entirely their presence and operations in India. We are currently in the process of compiling a comprehensive study of the programs and activities to be affected and the implementation process, and we will share this information with you as it is available.
Impact on Non-proliferation Efforts
Mr. Chairman, India's decision to conduct these nuclear test explosions is a serious violation of international non-proliferation norms, and a repudiation of international efforts to contain the further spread of nuclear weapons and pursue nuclear disarmament. This action constitutes a dangerous precedent for the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. India is the only country defined by the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state to have tested a nuclear explosive device--now three times over a 24-year period, twice within the past 3 days alone.
Clearly, India's nuclear tests are a serious setback. They highlight the risks associated with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and raise the specter of further proliferation on the subcontinent and in other regions of the world. But, while India's tests have created new challenges for the international non-proliferation regime, we will continue to seek ways to create new opportunities. We will use these developments to call attention to the inherent risks associated with nuclear weapons proliferation, and to mobilize international support for all possible steps to guard against an escalation of tension and confrontation in South Asia. In announcing its decision to conduct these tests, India indicated some willingness to show flexibility on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and to "participate" in a fissile material cutoff negotiation--although its statements fell far short of indicating any meaningful commitment to either accord. In the post-test environment, we will need to move energetically to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and to take full advantage of any Indian willingness to move toward acceptance of international nonproliferation norms. In particular, we will intensify our efforts to achieve early entry into force of the CTBT, to commence negotiations on, and complete at an early date, a fissile material cut-off treaty, and to promote nuclear and missile restraint in South Asia and beyond.
Impact on U.S. Relations
Mr. Chairman, I join the President and the Secretary in my deep dismay over the recent events. In the time since I assumed my position as Assistant Secretary for South Asian Affairs, I have worked hard, in accordance with a well considered administration decision, to broaden and deepen our ties with India and the rest of South Asia, and to pursue our non-proliferation objectives vigorously within the context of our overall relationship. During my most recent trip to India, where I accompanied Ambassador Richardson and Bruce Riedel from the NSC, we were continuously reassured by the most senior leaders of the new BJP Government that India appreciated our efforts to strengthen ties, and was looking forward to the President's scheduled trip, and a far-reaching dialogue on a vast array of issues. At the same time, we were assured privately and publicly that India would continue to show restraint in the non-proliferation field, and would do nothing to surprise us.
As a direct result of India's decisions and actions, we are now compelled to look again at our approach to India. Instead of highlighting our cooperative efforts with India to promote trade and investment, to work towards protecting the environment, halting the spread of AIDS and other infectious diseases, and to emphasize Science and Technology cooperation, we will now need to put much of the cooperative side of our agenda on hold and deal with the consequences of India's actions. We must focus anew on seeking a meaningful Indian commitment to cease from further testing, to join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty immediately and without qualifications, and to respect other international non-proliferation norms. We will need to assess how we will deal with India in accordance with the Glenn amendment, and other U.S. laws which require sanctions far more restrictive than those placed upon Pakistan under the Pressler amendment. Looking ahead, we will need to try to engage India on a number of issues aside from the immediate crisis, but I must caution that India's actions have made such engagement far more difficult than would otherwise have been the case.
At the same time, we will need to work closely and cooperatively with Pakistan, whom we judge also to have the capacity to test a nuclear device, to show restraint in the face of India's provocative actions. Pakistan has the opportunity now to take the statesmanlike course in South Asia, and to demonstrate that it is committed to a peaceful future in the subcontinent. I know that Prime Minister Sharif is committed personally to improving relations with India, and understands that Pakistan's long-term interests rest on regional stability through increased cooperation. Although Mr. Sharif's task has been made significantly more difficult with the events of this week, we hope very much that he will persevere with the course he has charted, and avoid the temptation to demonstrate a capability that the world already believes to exist. Pakistan will earn the gratitude of the international community, and will actually enhance its own security, by following a policy of restraint.
Mr. Chairman, we have arrived at a historic juncture in our relationship with India. We continue to respect India as a complex, democratic society, and we wish neither to diminish India's achievements, nor underestimate its potential. But, we regret deeply that its current leaders believe that they must detonate nuclear weapons in order to be taken seriously as a nation. There are reports from the Indian press which cite gleeful claims that India has now become the world's sixth superpower--a fact which is apparent only to those making the claim. Clearly, the world thinks otherwise. We deplore India's new tests not only because of the breach they represent in global non-proliferation policy, but also because of the harm that it does to India's reputation and stature. We, and I trust the international community, still desire productive and cooperative relations with India, but we are now forced to move ahead under the burden of these tests and their inexorable consequences. The Government of India has chosen to separate itself from the responsible consensus of the world community on an issue of critical importance, and we must act accordingly.
Let me end, Mr. Chairman, on a hopeful note despite this week's very bad news. Last year, we were encouraged by the resumption of high-level dialogue between India and Pakistan, and we were equally encouraged earlier this year when both Prime Minister Sharif and Prime Minister Vajpayee pledged to "go the extra mile" to improve relations between their two countries. I harbor no illusions about the difficult challenge that the current environment poses to the resumption of Indo-Pakistani dialogue. But, let me emphasize that the future prosperity and stability of the region depends upon it, and we remain hopeful that progress can and will be made. I now will be happy to answer your questions, and to hear your views and recommendations, along with my colleague, Mr. Einhorn.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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