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


STATEMENT BY KARL F. INDERFURTH

ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE

FOR SOUTH ASIAN AFFAIRS



SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE

SUBCOMMITTEE

ON NEAR EASTERN AND SOUTH ASIAN AFFAIRS



MAY 13, 1998



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:


Now, Mr. Chairman, let me return to my statement. I am deeply
disappointed that I am compelled to deliver testimony that is far
different than 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."


India's Rationale



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.


International Response



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.


U.S. Response



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
fast 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 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 Nonproliferation Efforts



Mr. Chairman, India's decision to conduct these nuclear test
explosions is a serious violation of international nonproliferation
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
nonproliferation 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 twenty-four year period, twice within
the past three 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 nonproliferation 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 a 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 nonproliferation regime and to take full
advantage of any Indian willingness to move towards 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 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 nonproliferation 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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