India defiant over nuclear test ban treaty
Pressure from the major powers has had little impact, writes Tim McGirk in New Delhi
Saturday 10 August 1996
Alone among more than 40 countries attending the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, it has raised obstacles to the nuclear test ban treaty. India's UN envoy in Geneva, Arundhati Ghose, said that the current text of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) ignores India's security needs and gives an unfair edge to countries which already possess nuclear arms. India is demanding that the treaty set a time limit for the big nuclear powers to get rid of their arsenals.
Britain and the US are worried that India may block the pact from reaching the UN General Assembly for ratification in September. In Washington, the US State Depart- ment spokesman, Nicholas Burns, said that the Clinton administration was still trying to coax India into signing, but with little hope of success. "However, we will continue to expect in the negotiations that India will not seek to frustrate the will of the international community on this particular issue," the US spokesman said.
UN disarmament experts in Geneva thought they had achieved the impossible: an agreement by the world's five biggest nuclear powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the US - to prohibit underground nuclear blasts. The CTBT also went a step further, binding countries to strict on-site inspections of nuclear installations by UN officials.
But India - which is considered to be a "threshold" nuclear power, along with Pakistan and Israel - is balking at the proposed treaty. The country has two hostile nuclear neighbours, China and Pakistan, and wants to keep the option of building its own atomic arsenal and carrying out underground tests. The threat of possible sanctions and widespread condemnation is unlikely to sway India into signing the test ban treaty, according to New Delhi officials.
India's new government is run by a fragile coalition, but the Prime Minister, Deve Gowda, can count on backing from all major parties, especially right- wing Hindus, in refusing to sign the Geneva treaty. As the Foreign Secretary, Salman Haider, recently said, "The acquisition of nuclear weapons is essential for national security and we have followed a conscious decision in this regard." India exploded a nuclear device in 1974 and is working on a long- range missile, the Agni, which is capable of delivering an atomic warhead.
New Delhi officials said India's objections to the CTBT are too strong for it simply to abstain from signing the pact before the Geneva conference ends on 15 August. The Clinton Administration would be content if India did not block the CTBT's passage. Otherwise, an Indian veto could either stop the treaty outright or cause it quickly to unravel.
If India refuses to sign, Pakistan may also pull out of the treaty, fearing that its enemy neighbour might gain an unfair advantage in developing nuclear weapons. China, too, has raised doubts against the treaty's insistence on nuclear site inspections, and it has required much coaxing by the US before agreeing to the CTBT.
Indian officials insist that the proposed treaty locks the major nuclear powers into a position of superiority. The "Big Five" no longer need underground tests, since nuclear explosions can now be simulated by computers or laboratory experiments, whereas India and other "threshold" nations have yet to reach that point, New Delhi officials explained.
Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart bromance continues: X-Men star gushes about 'pussy cat' BFF Patrick Stewart
David Cameron stung by jellyfish: PM hurt after ignoring advice of locals while on holiday
South Korea ferry: Vice principal rescued from sinking ship found hanged
Hollande's affair: Catherine Deneuve and Sophie Marceau in war of words over President's relationship with Julie Gayet
Kim Jong-un, crowds and contraband kit: Inside North Korea with the the Pyongyang marathon winner
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 KFC 'sorry' after lesbian couple are kicked out of Bath restaurant for 'heavy petting'
- 2 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
- 5 PFA Player of the Year: Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard all nominated as Liverpool dominate award shortlist
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...