INDIA'S NUCLEAR TESTS: A CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT (House of Representatives - May 12, 1998)

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The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Shimkus). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, India conducted three underground nuclear tests in its Pokhran Range with a combined force of up to 20 kilotons. Although the Indian Government claims the underground explosions did not result in radioactive fallout, the fallout from the international community has been incendiary, marked by protests and condemnation.

I submit, Mr. Speaker, that India's return to nuclear weapons testing is highly regrettable, as it threatens stability not only in south Asia, but the whole world, and this latest action by India clearly undercuts nuclear nonproliferation efforts around the world.

While these developments with India are unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, many would find India's actions to be both understandable as well as predictable. In refusing to join in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, India has long argued that the treaties are discriminatory and clearly one-sided because they maintain and perpetuate a world of nuclear haves and have-nots, a world where five nuclear nations clearly have distinctive advantages over all other countries.

To remedy this inequality, India has rightfully called for global nuclear disarmament and verifiable arrangements for the elimination of nuclear weapons arsenals by the superpowers.

Since its 1974 test, as a sign of good faith, India has forgone nuclear weapons testing. For almost 2 1/2 decades, India has demonstrated nuclear restraint, while five nuclear nations, the United States, Russia, France, Great Britain and China, have conducted scores of tests in the face of worldwide disapproval.

Now, Mr. Speaker, citing legitimate security concerns with nuclear-armed China and Pakistan's close alliance with Beijing, it is not surprising that India has chosen to exercise the nuclear option. Because of this, there is fear now that Pakistan may follow suit and test a nuclear device of its own.

Mr. Speaker, the only way to stop this spiraling proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world is for the nuclear nations to take responsibility and set an example. How can the United States and the other four members of the nuclear club continue to argue and to urge other countries to forgo nuclear weapons while reserving the right to keep our own nuclear weapons for ready use? If this is not the height of hypocrisy, Mr. Speaker, I do not know what is.

To put it another way, Mr. Speaker, this is like having the five nuclear nations tell India to tie its legs and hands by not becoming a member of the nuclear club, and any time China feels like threatening India with its nuclear arsenal, it is perfectly all right because it is within the spirit of the Nonproliferation Treaty.

With the Cold War over, it is madness, Mr. Speaker, that the United States and Russia alone still have over 5,000 nuclear missiles poised to fire within seconds at each other or any other country that may pose a threat and, still, over 15,000 more warheads on operational alert. In total, over 36,000 nuclear bombs threaten the existence of this planet.

Mr. Speaker, it is time that the nuclear powers negotiate a nuclear weapons convention that requires the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons within a time frame incorporating proper verification and enforcement provisions.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, the former commander of the U.S. Strategic Air Command, General Lee Butler, and a former Supreme Commander of all NATO forces, General Andrew Goodpaster, representing a group of 60 retired generals and admirals, have concluded the only way to end a nuclear threat is to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide. As General Butler has stated, and I quote,

Proliferation cannot be contained in a world where a handful of self-appointed nations both arrogate to themselves the privilege of owning nuclear weapons, and extol the ultimate security assurances they assert such weapons convey.

Mr. Speaker, it is time for the United States to show real leadership as the only true superpower in the world. We have no match for our military capabilities, both in terms of conventional or nuclear weapons resistance. From a position of strength, it is incumbent that we have the courage envisioned to initiate negotiations for the elimination of all nuclear weapons by the nuclear powers to free the world of this threat.

Mr. Speaker, if we fail to do so, it is clear that the example of India's testing yesterday will herald the beginning of a new chapter of nuclear proliferation that will inevitably result in a nuclear tragedy of unimaginable suffering.

Mr. Speaker, I submit for the Record three articles relating to the topic I have been speaking on this evening.

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From the New York Times, May 12, 1998

[FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, MAY 12, 1998]

India Sets 3 Nuclear Blasts, Defying a Worldwide Ban; Tests Bring a Sharp Outcry

Countries with a declared nuclear weapons capacity: United States, Russia, France, Britain, and China.

Countries known to have nuclear weapons capacity: India, Pakistan, and Israel.

Countries seeking nuclear weapons capacity--Iran: The State Department believes that Iran is actively developing nuclear weapons, in part with its civilian nuclear energy program. Iraq: The State Department believes that Iraq aspires to have nuclear weapons but has stopped development because of the United Nations inspections.

North Korea: The Clinton Administration believes that North Korea was actively developing nuclear weapons until 1994, when an agreement was reached to freeze the country's known nuclear weapons development activity.

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Indians Risk Invoking U.S. Law Imposing Big Economic Penalties

(BY TIM WEINER)

Washington, May 11: India's nuclear tests today brought into play an American law that could block billions of dollars of aid to India, and it prompted American officials to plead with Pakistan not to intensify a regional arms race by conducting its own atomic tests.

Samuel R. Berger, the national security adviser, said he and other top officials were scrutinizing the never-used 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act, a Federal law which orders President Clinton to impose severe penalties on nations conducting nuclear tests or selling nuclear weapons. The law on nuclear tests covers nations that are developing nuclear weapons but excludes the declared nuclear powers, Russia, China, Great Britain and France.

The law requires Mr. Clinton to cut off almost all Government aid to India, bar American banks from making loans to its Government, stop exports of American products with military uses such as machine tools and computers--and, most importantly, oppose aid to India by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. India is the world's largest borrower from the World Bank, with more than $40 billion in loans; it is expecting about $3 billion in loans and credits this year. Last year, of $19.1 billion of the World Bank committed to developing nations, India received more than 1.5 billion. The International Monetary Fund has no programs under way with India, a spokesman for the fund said.

Direct United States assistance to India has not exceeded several hundred million dollars annually in recent years. This year, it included $41 million in licenses to buy military equipment and $51 million in development aid.

The tests `came as a complete shock, a bolt out of the blue,' one senior Administration official said. `It's a fork in the road,' the official said. `Will India and Pakistan be locked in a nuclear arms race? Will the Chinese resume nuclear testing now?'

Although American officials expressed shock, India's governing Hindu nationalist party announced that it would review the country's nuclear policy the day before it took power in March. Soon after it won the
election, the party said it intended to `induct' nuclear weapons into India's arsenal. `Induct' is a technical term meaning formally placing such weapons in military stockpiles, and American officials said today that they had not foreseen that India would take the provocative step of resuming testing.

Nor did United States intelligence agencies pick up any signs that the tests were imminent.

United States officials strongly rebuked India while urging its neighbor, Pakistan, not to conduct its own test. Mr. Berger warned against `a new round of escalation.'

President Clinton was `deeply distressed by the announcement of three nuclear tests,' his spokesman, Michael D. McCurry, said today, and `has authorized formal presentation of our displeasure to be made to the Government in New Delhi.'

The nuclear tests pose a challenge for Mr. Clinton, whose policy toward India and his scheduled trip there this fall both now require rethinking, Administration officials said.

`Sanctions are mandatory,' said Senator John Glenn, the law's author and an Ohio Democrat. The only way to delay them is if the President tells Congress that immediate imposition would harm national security, and that delay can only last 30 days.

`It would be hard to avoid the possibility of sanctions,' a State Department official said. `There is no wiggle room in the law.'

If the World Bank loans to India are cut off as a result of United States pressure, that `would have serious implications for their budget, serious detrimental effects,' a World Bank official said today.

While the United States cannot tell the World Bank what to do, `we have a fairly heavy vote,' a senior State Department official said.

Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who heads the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, urged the Administration to punish India under the law. `It's an enormous negative blow to our relationship with India,' he said. `It'll destabilize the region.'

The British Government does not have a similar law mandating sanctions, but India is the largest recipient of British foreign aid.

Henry Sokolski, a former senior Pentagon official involved in limiting the spread of nuclear arms, said: `India has just dug a big hole for itself by doing this test, a military, political and economic hole. Its banking system's in a world of hurt now. It's about to get a death blow.'

The shock of the tests was amplified by the fact that the nation's top experts on the spread of nuclear arms only learned about them this morning from news agencies and television networks, not from the Central Intelligence Agency. Several of those Government experts expressed fury at the United States intelligence community and the Indian Government for failing to provide advance notice of the event.

Government experts said tonight they were still trying to come to grips with the meaning of the tests.

`There are two scenarios,' a senior Administration official said. The optimists at the White House believe that `the Indians will say that now that they've secured confidence in their nuclear weapons stockpile, they are prepared to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.'

The pessimists think the Indians `now have decided they're going to be an open nuclear power,' he said. `They will endure international sanctions. They accept that they and the Pakistanis will be locked in a nuclear arms race.'

From the New York Times, May 12, 1998

[FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, MAY 12, 1998]

India Stages 3 Nuclear Tests, Stirring Worldwide Outcry--Pakistan Hints It Might Follow Suit as Answer to the New Premier

(BY JOHN F. BURNS)

New Delhi, May 11--Nearly 24 years after it detonated its only nuclear explosion, India conducted three underground nuclear tests today at a site in the country's north-western desert. The move appeared to signal India's determination to abandon decades of ambiguity in favor of openly declaring that it has nuclear weapons.

After less than two months in office, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leader of a Hindu nationalist party that has been an advocate of India's embracing nuclear weapons as a step toward great-power status, emerged on the lawn of his residence here and read a statement. Speaking in the late afternoon, he said the tests had been carried out barely an hour earlier at the Pokharan testing range in Rajasthan state, 350 miles southwest of New Delhi, where India's first nuclear test was conducted on May 18, 1974.

With the tests, the Government cast aside a generation of caution and opted instead for a course that brought immediate international condemnation from a world that has officially scorned nuclear testing since 1996. The tests also open the possibility of a costly and dangerous nuclear arms race with India's archrival Pakistan.

The tests, and next step that they appeared to imply--arming Indian missiles with nuclear warheads--were almost certain to provoke economic sanctions under United States law, and to raise tensions with China, a nuclear power that has been described as a greater long-term threat to India than Pakistan is. China had no immediate official reaction to the news from India.

But after waiting 50 years to gain power, the Hindu nationalists appeared to have found all this less compelling than the urge to stake a claim for India as a great power, eager to equate its vast population with a matching military and political muscle. The nationalists may also have gambled on the tests' boosting their popularity, propelling them toward an outright parliamentary majority in the future.

Still, Mr. Vajpayee seemed to reflect the heavy stakes in the somber tone of his announcement. The 72-year-old Prime Minister restricted himself to a sparse, technical account of the tests, barely looking up from his text as he did so, then walked back into his residence without taking any questions.

`I have a brief announcement to make,' he said. `Today, at 1545 hours, India conducted three underground nuclear tests in the Pokharan range. The tests conducted were with a fission device, a low-yield device, and a thermonuclear device.'

`The measured yields are in line with expected values,' he said. `Measurements have confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere. These were contained explosions like in the experiment conducted in May 1974. I warmly congratulate the scientists and engineers who have carried out the successful tests. Thank you very much indeed.'

Mr. Vajpayee's principal secretary, Brajesh Mishra, said afterward that the tests had established `that India has a proven capability for a weaponized nuclear program.'

Mr. Mishra said the tests would help scientists design `nuclear weapons of different yields for different applications and for different delivery systems'--meaning, Indian experts said, that the explosions were meant to test different types of nuclear warheads for India's fast-developing missile program, which has a mix of delivery vehicles to reach targets as close as Pakistan and as distant as China.

The tests were widely welcomed in India; with hardly any immediate dissent from opposition political parties and little sign of the Gandhian pacifism that was a strong element in Indian policy in the early years after independence in 1947.

Even Mr. Vajpayee's predecessor as Prime Minister, I.K. Gujral, a moderate who blocked the tests during his year in office, said: `It was always known that India had the capability to do this. The tests only confirm what was already known.'

But the outcry from outside India was almost universal, with dozens of governments expressing anger that India had broken an informal moratorium on nuclear testing that went into effect in 1996, when India and Pakistan stood aside as scores of other nations met at the United Nations to endorse the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all nuclear tests. The treaty is widely regarded as a key step toward halting the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Indian tests drew immediate condemnation from the Clinton Administration, which said the United States was `deeply disappointed' and was reviewing trade and financial sanctions against India under American nonproliferation laws; from other Western nations, including Britain, which voiced its `dismay' and Germany, which called the tests `a slap in the face' for 149 countries that have signed the treaty, and from Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, who issued a statement expressing his `deep regret.'

But perhaps the most significant reaction came from Pakistan, which raised fears that years of effort by the United States to prevent an unrestrained nuclear arms race on the subcontinent were on the verge of collapse. In the absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was visiting Central Asia, Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan hinted that Pakistan, which has had a covert nuclear weapons program since the early 1970's, would consider conducting a nuclear test of its own, its first.

`Pakistan reserves the right to take all appropriate measures for its security.' Mr. Ayub Khan said in a statement to the Senate in Islamabad, the capital, that came amid demands from right-wing politicians and hard-line Islamic groups for an immediate nuclear test.

He laid the blame for the Indian tests on Western nations, mainly the United States, for not moving to head them off after Pakistan raised an alarm in Washington last month about the nuclear plans of the Vajpayee Government. When it took office in March after an election, the Government led pledged that it would review India's policy with a view to `inducting' nuclear weapons into its armed forces.

`We are surprised at the nai˙AE4vete of the Western world, and also of the United States, that they did not take the cautionary signals that we were flashing to them,' the Pakistani Foreign Minister said in an interview with the BBC. He added: `I think they could have restrained India. Now India has thumbed its nose to the Western world and the entire international community.'

Pakistan demanded that the United States impose harsh sanctions against India. Benazir Bhutto, a former Prime Minister, said in a BBC interview in London that her Government had a contingency plan in 1996 to carry out a nuclear test if India did. She said the ability still existed, and should be used. `If we don't, India will go ahead and adopt aggressive designs on us,' she said.

The Vajpayee Government's decision to conduct the tests so soon after taking office appeared to catch the world's other established nuclear weapons states--the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia--by surprise. Although the test site lies in flat desert terrain, under cloudless skies at this time of the year, India seems to have succeeded in keeping preparations secret, even from American spy satellites.

The surprise was all the greater because the Clinton Administration succeeded in heading off an earlier plan by India to stage nuclear tests in December 1995.

This time, the Vajpayee Government appeared keen to heighten the symbolism of the tests, staging them on the same Buddhist festival day as the first Indian test in 1974. According to nuclear scientists who oversaw the first test, the code message flashed to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi confirming the test's success was, `The Buddha is smiling.'

But Indian commentators noted that Mr. Vajpayee's statement differed in one important respect from Mrs. Gandhi's announcement nearly a quarter of a century ago. Mrs. Gandhi had described the test at Pokharan as a `peaceful' explosion, setting the theme for all subsequent Indian policy statements on the country's nuclear program until today.

By avoiding the word `peaceful' in his announcement today, Mr. Vajpayee appeared to signal that the days of artful ambiguity about India's plans are at an end. For years, the Hindu nationalists, led by Mr. Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party, have called for India to take a more assertive role in its dealings with the world, one that the nationalists believe is more appropriate for a nation with a 5,000-year history and a population, now nearing 980 million, that means nearly one in every five human beings is an Indian.

In statements issued after Mr. Vajpayee's announcement, the Indian Government sought to take some of the political sting out of the tests, saying that it held to the long-established Indian position of favoring `a total, global elimination of nuclear weapons,' and that it had not closed the door to some form of Indian participation in the test ban treaty if established nuclear powers committed themselves to this goal. But diplomats said this appeared to be mainly aimed at dissuading the United States from imposing sanctions.

The core of the new Government's thinking seemed to be represented by Kushabhau Thakre, the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who said the tests showed that the Vajpayee Government `unlike previous regimes, will not give in to international pressure.'

Strategists who have the ear of the Hindu nationalists have argued that India's deference to American pressures put the country at risk of being permanently stunted as a nuclear power. According to one recent estimate, by the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based research group, India has stockpiled enough weapons-grade plutonium to make 74 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan has enough for about 10 weapons. A parallel race to develop missiles that could carry nuclear warheads accelerated last month when Pakistan test-fired a missile it says has a range of nearly 1,000 miles.

But many Indians believe that the message of today's tests was intended more for China than for Pakistan. Although Pakistan has fought three wars with India since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and is engaged in a long-running proxy conflict with New Delhi in the contested territory of Kashmir, Indian political and military strategists have concluded that even a nuclear-armed Pakistan, with 130 million people and an economy ravaged by corruption, does not pose as great a long-term threat to India as China does.

China is even more populous than India, has long-running border disputes that cover tens of thousands of square miles of Indian-held territory, and has an expanding arsenal of nuclear missiles that it has been developing since the 1960's, with none of the pressures from Western powers to desist that India has faced. Today's tests came barely a week after India's Defense Minister, George Fernandes, warned that China, not Pakistan, is India's `potential enemy No. 1.'

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From the Los Angeles Times, May 12, 1998

[FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, MAY 12, 1998]

India Plays With Nuclear Fire

India's new government took power two months ago with a hard foreign policy line, including the appalling threat to develop nuclear weapons. Even more shocking was Monday's announcement that three underground nuclear devices had been detonated in a state bordering archenemy Pakistan.

Because the coalition government is dominated by the Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Muslims inside and outside India have looked with alarm at the new regime. Pakistan, overwhelmingly Muslim, has fought three wars with India since 1947; in April it announced the successful test-firing of a new missile that could reach deeper into India. That no doubt prompted India's hawks to brandish the nuclear sword.

Monday's explosions, the first major explosions since China and France conducted nuclear tests in 1996, raise the stakes again in South Asia, a restive region long considered vulnerable to nuclear war. Pakistan, predictably, pledged to take `all appropriate measures for its security.' Nuclear experts believe that the Islamabad regime is capable of assembling a nuclear weapon on short notice. China, which fought a war with India in 1962, obviously must be concerned by Monday's news.

Previous Indian governments, most of them led by the Congress (I) Party, insisted that New Delhi's only previous nuclear test, in 1974, was a `peaceful' experiment. The new government, in contrast, boasted that Monday's tests demonstrated a nuclear weapons capability, a message that rang loudly in Pakistan. Although China denies it, intelligence sources contend that Beijing has helped Pakistan's nuclear program, also tabbed the `Islamic bomb' due to funding from some Arab nations.

The United States was quick to condemn Monday's tests and clearly will have to rethink President Clinton's planned trip to India and Pakistan later this year. Washington and its allies should make clear to the two Asian nations that weapons tests and hostile rhetoric inflame an already dangerous situation.

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