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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 43, January - February 2000

Clinton to Visit South Asia

On February 1, President Clinton announced he will visit South Asia for the week beginning March 20, definitely visiting India and Bangladesh but with no other appointments confirmed. The step was widely interpreted both as a sign of impatience with the failure of Pakistan's military leader, General Pervez Musharraf, to announce a timetable for a return to civilian rule, and also as a window for Pakistan to take an important step, either in terms of its own situation or in the non-proliferation context. On February 5, General Musharraf told reporters: "Clinton is a man of peace…and it is in the interest of peace in the region that when he comes to India, he should also come to Pakistan. … It will certainly be regrettable if the visit, instead of contributing towards peace, as is his desire, is contributing toward an increase in tension… There are indications that the other side gets encouraged and sees that Pakistan is getting isolated, which raises the tension and ante against Pakistan… " On February 6, Pakistan's Embassy in Washington released the text of a letter from General Musharraf to Senator Tim Johnson, recently returned from Pakistan, in which he insists that Pakistan has been engaging constructively since the tests of May 1998:

"We…engaged in a dialogue with the US on the four nuclear benchmarks [set] by President Clinton. Our positive attitude during this dialogue has been evident in our positions relating to export controls, nuclear and missile restraint, our constructive position in Geneva on FMCT [Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty] negotiations and even the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We have set in motion a process of discussions for building support to enable the Government to sign the treaty. A major hurdle in preparing public opinion is the coercive environment caused by the sanctions which we regard as unjust. Our public also cannot ignore the ambitious nuclear programme unveiled by India in the recent months."

An indication of the distance yet to be covered before a consensus is secured came on February 13, when Islami Mahaz, a new grouping of religious parties and organisations, issued a statement urging the Government to decisively reject the test ban: "[W]e have reached the conclusion…that … The Government should take a courageous stand on the issue at this critical juncture … by rejecting it outright…"

On February 3, Pakistan announced details of its nuclear-weapons command-and-control structure. A National Command Authority (NCA), to be chaired by the head of Government (General Musharraf) will assume responsibility, in the words of the announcement issued by the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), "for policy formulation, and will exercise employment and development control over all strategic nuclear forces and strategic organizations." The NCA will be composed of two committees, an "apex" Employment Control Committee (ECC), and a Development Control Committee (DCC), both to be chaired by the head of Government.

On February 7, Pakistan announced that it had successfully a test fired a new short-range surface-to-surface missile with a range of up to 63 miles. It is not clear whether the missile is designed to carry a nuclear payload.

While eagerly anticipating the first visit of a US President to India since 1978, the BJP Government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee is stressing that the trip is linked neither to the issue of India signing the CTBT, nor agreeing to 'internationalising' the Kashmir issue. The leader of the main opposition party, Congress, Manmohan Singh, told reporters after meeting Vajpayee (February 12): "We said that the signing of the CTBT should not be linked with Clinton's visit… There is no hurry to sign the CTBT now…" On December 22, Congress was quoted by the Times of India as describing the CTBT as "a dead letter" in the wake of the treaty's rejection by the US Senate. In an interview with The Hindu newspaper on February 14, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, alluded to a possible incentive for India to join the accord: "We are ready to increase our cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear technology. That would meet and satisfy a great need in India. … [But] … India has to show it is ready to go along with the international [non-proliferation] regimes… "

The Acronym Institute is running a regularly updated special feature, The South Asia Nuclear Crisis, which includes full texts or substantial extracts of many of the statements and documents referred to in the News Review section: http://www.acronym.org.uk/special.htm

Note: India and Pakistan exchanged lists of nuclear installations on January 1, as part of a 1991 "Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack Against Nuclear Installations & Facilities". See the Acronym Institute website for The Hindu articles by C. Raja Mohan on India-US relations and the CTBT (http://www.acronym.org.uk/special.htm).

Reports: No hurry for signing CTBT, says Congress, Times of India, December 22; India, Pakistan exchange nuke lists, Associated Press, January 1; Press Release, Indian Foreign Ministry, January 1; Text - State's Talbott, India's Singh meet in London Jan. 18-19, 2000, USIS, January 19; Statement by the Press Secretary, The White House, February 1; Clinton seeks to 'engage' India on trip, Reuters, February 1; National Command Authority established, Associated Press of Pakistan, February 3; Musharraf takes charge of nuclear weapons, BBC News Online, February 3; Pak. signal to US on N-command, The Hindu, February 4; Pakistan urges Clinton not to shun Pakistan, Reuters, February 5; Clinton urged to visit Pakistan, Associated Press (AP) , February 5; Pakistan test fires new missile, AP, February 7; India urged to not link CTBT to Clinton visit, Reuters, February 12; Clinton visit not linked to CTBT or Kashmir- Indian PM, Agence France Presse, February 13; Islami Mahaz urges govt. to resist signing of CTBT, The Dawn, February 14; Signing CTBT will help, The Hindu, February 14.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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