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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 32, November 1998

Ongoing US Non-Proliferation Engagement With India and Pakistan

US officials have continued to discuss non-proliferation and disarmament options and priorities with India and Pakistan, following the two States' nuclear tests in May (Editor's note: see Documents and Sources for a detailed assessment of US nuclear diplomacy in South Asia from Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, America's senior official on the issue). On 20 November, US and Indian officials issued a joint statement on their latest round of talks, held in Rome:

"Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of the Government of India, Jaswant Singh, and Deputy Secretary of State of the United states Strobe Talbott met in Rome on 19-20 November, 1998 for the seventh round of bilateral discussions. The two sides reviewed issues related to disarmament, non-proliferation, and bilateral relations, as well as regional and international developments.

Mr. Singh and Mr. Talbott received and discussed an extensive report on the recent meeting on export controls between Indian and American delegations in New Delhi on 9-10 November. Those talks were deemed helpful to the prospect of continuing cooperation in this area. The Indian delegation raised its concern about the recently published entities list and access to international financial institutions.

The American delegation described the circumstances that will enable the two countries to transcend such difficulties as currently exist. Both delegations found the 19-20 November exchanges constructive and judge that they will contribute to an atmosphere that will facilitate further progress in establishing the positive environment both sides seek. The two sides will meet again in January in New Delhi to carry forward this process."

An assessment of starkly different tone was given by India's Defence Minister, George Fernandes, on 21 November: "The talks have shown that the United States has an agenda for India which is not acceptable... The United States should understand India's security concerns and reconcile itself to the obvious... India is too big and potentially a very powerful country to be subjected to a carrot-and-stick treatment."

The 'stick' referred to by Fernandes is presumably the 'entities list' mentioned in the joint statement: a sanctions list published by the US Commerce Department on 13 November. According to a Department press release:

"The Commerce Department today named 40 Indian and 46 Pakistani entities along with a number of subordinate entities which will be covered by export restrictions under the Clinton Administration's sanctions policy announced in June following nuclear tests by the two nations.

Today's announcement specifies Indian and Pakistani entities believed to have been involved in Indian or Pakistani nuclear, missile, and military programs. Commerce Department licenses will be required for exports to the entities listed, and most licenses will be denied. ...

'Publishing this list will ease the burden on US exporters by clarifying their responsibilities and helping them to comply with the sanctions,' said Commerce assistant Secretary for Export Administration Roger Majak. "We compiled this list after a thorough assessment of the best available information about these entities and the Indian and Pakistani weapons programs,' he said. ..." (Editor's note: a full list of the entities is available on the Department's website, at http://www.bxa.doc.gov/PRESS/98/Ind-Pak.html)

The 'carrot' came in the form of a 3 November decision by President Clinton to waive sanctions against non-nuclear-related entities in both countries - see Documents and Sources for details.

On 8 November, India's Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, told the Times of India of one issue that was a potentially serious stumbling block in discussions: details of India's fissile material stocks and deployment locations. According to Vajpayee: "[W]e have clearly told them that this information cannot be given... In any case, India's security compulsions will determine the deployment of fissile material."

The US has also been holding discussions with Pakistan, with a particular focus emerging on the issue of export controls. On 16 November, Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz told Voice of America radio: "Last week there was a meeting with the [US] technical team and they have given us the international standards and guidelines on the bases of which this is done. And in the next few weeks we will take whatever action is necessary to codify them to tighten our regulations." Aziz added: "In our case almost all the institutions are in the public sector, so our ability to exercise tightening control can be made; the objective can be achieved through much simpler regulation. There is some ordinance on export of nuclear technology, if necessary we can amend it."

The technical team is led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John Barker, who held talks in New Delhi before meeting Aziz. On 10 November, the US Embassy in New Delhi issued a statement expressing the team's satisfaction with Indian export control regulations: "The United States appreciates India's commitment for non-proliferation...and applauds India's support for enhancing its export control system."

Reports: India says US stand on deployment hits talks, Reuters, 8 November; Clinton urges India, Pakistan steps, Associated Press, 9 November; US praises India's nuclear controls, Associated Press, 10 November; India/Pakistan sanctions list published by Commerce Department, US Department of Commerce Press Release, 13 November; Pak-US-nuclear, Voice of America Correspondent Report No. 2-241738, 16 November; India says US nuclear talks slow, Associated Press, 21 November; Text - joint statement on Indo-US talks in Rome, United States Information Service, 23 November.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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