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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 33, December 1998 - January 1999

South Asian Nuclear Diplomacy

The United States has been continuing intensive discussions with India and Pakistan designed to commit the two countries to a range of non-proliferation and tension-reduction measures aimed at minimising the damage caused, regionally and globally, by the 11 nuclear tests conducted by the two States in May 1998. On 13 January, an in-depth reflection on the progress of the talks was given at a meeting of the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington by Matt Daley, a State Department advisor on the issue and former Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in New Delhi. According to Daley, the US premise in the discussions is that: "The US accepts the reality that India and Pakistan have tested. ... We are not going to ask either country to take measures that we think harm their interests..."

Referring to India's position, Daley stated that the discussions so far, led on the US side by Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, had "reaffirmed that India is committed to converting its voluntary moratorium [on testing] into a de jure obligation; that India is engaged in discussions with the United States and other countries, which it is prepared to conclude successfully, for the purpose of ensuring that the entry into force of the CTBT is not delayed beyond September this year...; India is participating constructively in the negotiations [for a fissile materials treaty] in Geneva and, indeed, like Pakistan, has facilitated the opening of those negotiations. India has turned aside suggestions that it will now look favourably upon a moratorium on fissile material production, but it's indicated a willingness to consider what might emerge from negotiated multilateral initiatives in the course of the...talks. ... India has announced what we would say are welcome policies on the subject of export controls... We've had one round of experts' talks on those topics. That was in November and another round will follow in the not-too-distant future. We're at the stage now of exchanging papers. India has announced its system of export controls, and I think it's fair to say it hopes to see better access to dual use and the high technologies. ... Our discussions on issues that could be grouped under the rubric of defense posture have been filled on a broad, almost philosophical plane. The Prime Minister has announced that India will have a credible minimum deterrent, one that is survivable and provides an adequate response to an attack. We will look forward to discussing what that means in concrete terms. I think that discussion will be a richer one as India completes its strategic defense review."

Editor's note: see Documents and Sources for extracts from a statement on nuclear policy to the Indian Parliament by Prime Minister Vajpayee.

With regard to Pakistan, Daley's summary was as follows:

"Pakistan has often explicitly conditioned various steps on actions taken by its larger neighbor. We hope that in the process of moving toward the international mainstream on the range of non-proliferation issues, Islamabad will, on occasion, judge that its interests are better served by moving first. This is the case with the CTBT. ... Similarly, we think that when Pakistan considers carefully the action-reaction cycle that accompanies many developments in the strategic arena, it will arrive at a more profound understanding of how a moratorium on fissile material production can serve its interests. ... On export controls, like India, Pakistan has announced the right policies. We're in the midst of ongoing exchanges between experts on this very topic."

On 15 January, India's Deputy Foreign minister Vasundhara Raje gave reporters an upbeat assessment of progress thus far: "We have narrowed down the issues and I think each step is taking us in the right direction... We believe there has been a movement in the last six sessions of talks that have taken place between Mr. Talbott and our External Affairs Minister [Jaswant Singh] and in light of that, the next meeting that we are going to have is also very, very important for us..."

On 1 January, as part of an agreement signed in 1988 and ratified by both sides in 1991, India and Pakistan exchanged lists of nuclear facilities. According to a statement issued by the Indian Foreign Ministry: "For the eighth consecutive year, India and Pakistan exchanged through diplomatic channels, and simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the lists of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between India and Pakistan."

On 22 December, India and Russia announced they would be signing a major strategic cooperation agreement in 1999. The announcement, made at the end of a visit by Prime Minister Primakov to India, was made in a joint statement: "The sides intend to move towards strategic partnership, which will be confirmed during their next summit level meeting by the signing of the Declaration of Strategic Partnership... This political document of paramount importance will set new parameters and guide the development of the close relationship between India and Russia..." A 24 December statement from Pakistan's Foreign Ministry reacted to the news with consternation, saying it was "heavily concerned and dismayed" at the "dangerous" proposal.

On 19 December, a thorn in the side of US-Pakistan relations was removed with agreement over the cancelled order in 1990 of 28 F-16 fighter planes paid for by Pakistan. According to a statement by the White House Press Secretary:

"The United States and Pakistan have agreed on a legal and diplomatic solution regarding the F-16 aircraft that Pakistan purchased but which were not delivered due to the imposition of sanctions in 1990 under the Pressler Amendment [prohibiting arms sales to Pakistan in protest at Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme].

Pakistan will withdraw and release its $463.7 million claim in connection with the F-16s in return for a payment by the United States of $324 million from the Judgment Fund of the US Treasury, a fund used to settle legal disputes that involve the US Government. Pakistan will also receive a separate payment of about $2.3 million from the Department of Defense, which is a refund delivered from a prior sale of some of the equipment associated with the F-16s. In addition, the United States will use all available means to provide Pakistan with additional goods and benefits up to the value of $140 million, including agricultural commodities. ..."

Under the terms of the agreement, New Zealand will lease or buy the 28 aircraft, with all proceeds going to reimburse the US Treasury.

Reports: Text - US, Pakistan reach agreement on F-16 aircraft, United States Information Service, 21 December; US, Pakistan strike deal on F-16s, Associated Press, 22 December; India, Russia to sign strategic agreement, Reuters, 22 December; Pakistan slams India-Russia pact, Associated Press, 24 December; Pakistan, India swap nuclear site lists, Reuters, 1 January; State department official on US dialogue with India, Pakistan, United States Information Service, 13 January; India Minister sees progress in arms talks with US, Reuters, 15 January.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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