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


THE CRISIS IN SOUTH ASIA

Senator Charles S. Robb

Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Near East and South Asia Subcommittee
03 June 1998




Mr. Chairman, Pakistan's decision to test last week was as predictable
as it was lamentable. Islamabad and New Delhi are engaged in a
neuralgic test of wills that not only undercuts concerted efforts
these last few years to reinforce global nonproliferation regimes such
as the NPT and CTBT, but more critically raises the stark possibility
of a fourth war between India and Pakistan since 1947.


A few weeks ago I mentioned Kashmir when Secretary Inderfurth appeared
before the Subcommittee, and again I'd like to urge American
policymakers to focus their diplomacy on new ways to improve the
situation there. There is no doubt in my mind that Kashmir is the
spark for renewed, deadly and widespread conflict between India and
Pakistan.


When the permanent five Foreign Ministers gather tomorrow after the
meeting President Clinton and Secretary Albright are having this
morning, to consider what steps might be taken, I believe it is
imperative that they should consider all the options for what can be
done to cool the short-term fires building on the line of control
between Pakistan and India. Reports that conventional forces have
already clashed there again in recent days are especially troubling.
While defining a freeze-and-cap strategy to head off a nuclear arms
race on the Subcontinent is of primary importance, Western nations
need to forthrightly address the most imminent threat, and that in my
judgement is: a military confrontation over Kashmir.


In the short term, Pakistan's exercise in nuclear chest-beating by law
requires punitive action on our part. Yet, Islamabad deserves some
measure of credit for receiving a high-level U.S. delegation and
listening to our concerns. I don't believe Pakistan would have tested
on its own; Prime Minister Sharif, for a variety of reasons was
virtually compelled to respond to India's provocation, for purely
internal reasons, much as Prime Minister Vajpayee and the BJP decided
to test in the first place.


Not that any of this makes either nation's decision to test any more
excusable. I had hoped that Pakistan would have taken the high road
and not tested. I believe they have squandered an opportunity to gain
unparalleled support and respect from the international community.
Unfortunately, the Pakistani people will now pay a heavy economic
price for the decision to move ahead on the nuclear front.


Over the longer term, I believe a series of confidence building
measures, designed to restore a semblance of order and stability in
the region, ought to be aggressively pursued by the Administration to
stem the tide of growing discord between India and Pakistan.


Congress can help by giving the President the flexibility he needs in
responding to the crisis at hand. The Glenn amendment rightly metes
out punishment for testing. All bilateral economic and military
assistance has been stricken and international loans and credits are
clearly in doubt given American opposition.


But the President does not have a free hand to act since the law
offers no waiver authority for the Executive branch to implement
policy as it sees fit, in close consultation with congress, in
persuading India and Pakistan to step back from a missile and nuclear
arms competition. The fact that congress must pass another law to
revoke comprehensive sanctions now in place, borders on an invasion of
the President's constitutional prerogatives to conduct foreign policy.


Although I serve on all three national security committees, I don't
believe I am qualified, nor do I think anyone else in the Senate is
qualified to implement de facto control over our foreign policy in
this region. In due course it is my hope that the congress provides
the President the statutory authority to act in this area, again while
closely consulting with the Congress, in the best interests of the
country.


Regarding the specific actions might be taken, I'm not at odds with
some of the ideas I've heard directly from Administration officials
and in the media.


First on testing, it makes sense to intensify bilateral and
multilateral dialogue with both Pakistan and India. We should press
for, but not expect anytime soon, both sides constraining their
nuclear programs, specifically deciding not to weaponize their nuclear
arsenals or produce and stockpile any weapons. Clearly CTBT membership
and a fissile material cut-off should be on the agenda. Formalizing
non-first use pledges is an area worth exploring, even if the two
sides have contrary views on the issue for now.


In exchange, I think we need to elevate India's and Pakistan's
political, economic and security status in the world short of
welcoming either member into the nuclear club at this time. The idea
to help provide civilian nuclear power centers, perhaps in line with
what we're doing in North Korea is intriguing, but Administration
officials should not underestimate the enormous complexity of such a
task.


Second, on Kashmir, we ought to bolster our intelligence collection
efforts to head off any potential confrontation between India and
Pakistan regarding the territory in question. While we cannot impose a
solution, we can help keep the respective conventional forces at a
peaceful arm's length by undertaking a comprehensive information
campaign: on troop and missile movements, carefully watching military
exercises, encouraging the use of the existing hotline, and promoting
force structure transparency generally.


I recognize the diplomatic sensitivities involved in encouraging a
larger solution to Kashmir, but the difficulty of solving the problem,
in my judgment, should not deter the U.S. and the international
community from taking this on as a high U.S. priority. We should not
be afraid of failure in this particular area. A renewed commitment on
Kashmir, given the new and dangerous nuclear context in which
India-Pakistan relations have now evolved, may be the spur for new
thinking on the subject. At least I hope so.


With these thoughts, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing the
testimony of Secretary Inderfurth, who will be integrally involved in
these decisions in the months ahead.


(End text)