1998 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile


Crisis in South Asia: India's Nuclear Tests

Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman
Senate Foreign Relations Committee


May 13, 1998 


MR. HELMS: I am astonished that the Indian government was able to
catch the U.S. intelligence capability sound asleep at the switch,
revealing the stark reality that the Clinton Administration's six-year
cozying up to India has been a foolhardy and perilous substitute for
common sense. A small squadron of cabinet officers have visited in the
past two years and President Clinton has been planning a trip later
this year.


Even so, the Indian government has not shot itself in the foot -- it
has most likely shot itself in the head. By conducting five nuclear
tests, India has made a major miscalculation, not merely about the
United States, but about India's own capability. The Indian government
has deluded itself into the absurd assumption that the possession of
nuclear weapons will make India "a superpower," at a time when
hundreds of millions of India's people are in poverty. The fact is
that India is tangled in economic knots, disease and misery are
rampant -- hence the absurd assumption that a big boom will make them
a big power.


This mentality is not merely dangerous, it is incredible. But the
proliferation of nuclear weapons is certainly no laughing matter.
Pursuant to the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994, all
manner of U.S. assistance to India, ranging from foreign aid to U.S.
support for India in global financial institutions, has been
terminated. For whatever it is worth, I have hoped that India would
march sensibly, and with caution, into the 21st century. I have tried
to be a friend to India. But, as long as there is breath in me, I will
never support the lifting of the Glenn amendment sanctions on India
unless they abandon all nuclear ambitions.


Regarding Pakistan in all of this, I understand the position that
Pakistan is in today. They are threatened, politically and militarily,
and no doubt the Pakistanis feel enormous pressure to act. To Prime
Minister Sharif, I offer my advice, for whatever it is worth. This is
the moment of truth for Pakistan as a nation. It can be a partner to
the United States in fighting nuclear proliferation, or it can be a
schoolyard rival to India, and engage in the folly of nuclear weapons
testing. I hope Pakistan will choose to be our partner.


Additionally, India's actions demonstrate that the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty (CTBT), from a non-proliferation standpoint, is scarcely
more than a sham. I hope that the Clinton Administration has learned
from its mistakes sufficiently to refuse to allow India to paper over
its actions by signing the CTBT. I, for one, cannot and will not agree
to any treaty which would legitimize de facto India's possession of
these weapons, just so long as they are not caught further testing
them. The appropriate U.S. response must be vigorous international
sanctions against India to be lifted only after India's nuclear
program has been rolled back.


And, mind you, there are aspects of India's nuclear detonations, which
are extremely troubling. Today's two tests were clearly intended to
fall below any seismic detection threshold, a clear indication that
India intended to remain a nuclear power at all costs, which
demonstrates India's intent to exploit the verification deficiencies
of the CTBT by testing new designs in an undetectable fashion.


I will be particularly interested in what the former Director of
Central Intelligence, Jim Woolsey, thinks about all of this.


Indeed, if the Administration plans to pressure India regarding arms
control treaties, it should focus on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT). Indian ratification of that treaty, as a non-nuclear
weapons state, will do infinitely more than Indian ratification of the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We don't need to worry about Indian
nuclear tests if India has agreed not to have these weapons in the
first place.


India's nuclear testing is compelling, additional evidence pointing to
the need for a national missile defense to protect the United States.
Because India has a space-launch capability which can be readily
configured as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), India's
actions clearly constitute an emerging nuclear threat to the territory
of the United States. It is high time that the antiquated 1972
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty -- which prohibits a national missile
defense, and which hamstrings even U.S. theater missile defenses -- is
relegated to the ash bins of history.


Finally, India's actions underscore how vital the U.S. nuclear
deterrent is to our national security. What is needed, at this time,
is not a scramble for an arms control treaty that prohibits the United
States from guaranteeing the safety of the American people and the
reliability of its nuclear stockpile.


What is needed is a careful, top-to-bottom review of the state of our
own nuclear infrastructure, and there should be no further delay in
getting about it.


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