Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 45, April 2000
Clinton Slams Republican Criticism of South Asia TripOn March 31, President Clinton reacted sharply to Republican criticism of his recent trip to South Asia. House Republican Whip Tom DeLay was to the fore in accusing the President of returning empty-handed and having failed to defuse nuclear tensions in the region. Responding to media questioning about the criticism, the President retorted: "What he [DeLay] didn't point out is that I lost all the leverage I had when the Republican Senate defeated the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. … [When I heard his criticism,] I thought, that is real gall… Man, for a guy to stand up and say that! That requires a lot of moxie, you know…"
Writing in the Miami Diario las Americas newspaper on April 2, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright reflected on the President's trip, reiterating the basic principles of the US approach to the nuclear crisis in South Asia:
"The fundamental goal of President Clinton's visit to India was to set the course for a qualitatively different and better relationship with India, not a simple return to the status quo before its nuclear tests. The limits on our ability to cooperate with India, and Pakistan, are a matter of US law, as well as our international obligations. Achieving the level of cooperation with India that we both desire will depend on progress made toward non-proliferation.
The United States' approach to non-proliferation is global. We cannot abandon it simply because we desire an improved relationship. Any other stance would break faith with all the nations…who have made difficult decisions to strengthen their own security and the cause of non-proliferation by joining the NPT.
The Cold War's end opened up new opportunities to work toward a world in which the risks and roles of nuclear weapons can be reduced, and ultimately eliminated. It would be tragic if actions now being taken led the world not toward seizing these opportunities, but instead toward new risks of nuclear war.
Our continuing dialogue with India and Pakistan on security and non-proliferation issues is part of our global efforts in this regard. We will continue to discuss how to pursue security requirements without contributing to a costly and destabilizing nuclear missile and arms race."
Note: see last issue and our website special feature, http://www.acronym.org.uk/special.htm, for extensive coverage of the President's visit.
Reports: Clinton - GOP has 'no shame', Associated Press, March 31; byliner - Secretary of State Albright on President's South Asia trip, Transcript - US official discusses Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, US State Department (Washington File), April 4.
© 2000 The Acronym Institute.