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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 60, September 2001

Documents & Sources

Speech on US-Indian Nuclear Policy

'The Future of US-India Relations,' speech by Robert D. Blackwell, Mumbai, India, September 6, 2001.

"The Future of Nuclear Weapons

The Governments of the United States and India both have a vital interest in the future of nuclear weapons in the international system. This is no surprise given the unimaginable destructive power of these devices. India will naturally be interested in the future of US nuclear policy. Hence the welcome by the Indian Government of the visit of Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to India in May, and other bilateral discussions here and in Washington regarding President Bush's new strategic framework.

My country has an equal interest in the shape and substance of India's nuclear policy. This mutual preoccupation by our two countries seems entirely natural since each capital wants to be sure that the other takes no steps in the nuclear arena that could destabilize strategic and regional stability.

It is heartening that our two governments have already found more common ground on nuclear matters since President Bush took office. Both the United States and India strongly oppose the further spread of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. Both the United States and India want dramatic reductions in the number of nuclear weapons on the globe.

President Bush has declared: 'I am committed to achieving a credible deterrent with the lowest possible number of nuclear weapons consistent with our national security needs, including our obligations to our allies. My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces. The United States will lead by example to achieve our interests and the interests for peace in the world.' The Government of India has responded: 'India particularly welcomes the announcement of unilateral reductions by the US of nuclear forces, as an example.'

Both the United States and India also agree that the 30-year-old nuclear paradigm of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) has thankfully been overtaken by history. President Bush has stressed: 'To maintain peace, to protect our own citizens and own allies and friends, we must seek security based on more than the grim premise that we can destroy those who seek to destroy us. This is an important opportunity for the world to rethink the unthinkable, and to find new ways to keep the peace.' The Government of India has the same view: 'India believes that there is a strategic and technological inevitability in stepping away from a world that is held hostage by the doctrine of MAD to a cooperative, defensive transition that is underpinned by further cuts and a de-alert of nuclear forces.'

Both the United States and India wish to leave behind the deadly elements of bi-polar confrontation. President Bush has stated: 'Today, the sun comes up on a vastly different world. The Wall is gone, and so is the Soviet Union. Today's Russia is not yesterday's Soviet Union. Its government is no longer Communist. Its president is elected. Today's Russia is not our enemy, but a country in transition with an opportunity to emerge as a great nation, democratic, at peace with itself and its neighbors.' The Government of India has the same view: 'India also lauds the desire expressed by the US President to make a clean break from the past and especially from the adversarial legacy of the Cold War.'

Finally, the Bush administration continues intense discussions with our Indian counterparts on the issue of missile defense. President Bush has said: 'We need a new framework that allows us to build missile defenses to counter the different threats of today's world. To do so, we must move beyond the constraints of the 30 year old ABM Treaty. This treaty does not recognize the present, or point us to the future. It enshrines the past. No treaty that prevents us from addressing today's threats, that prohibits us from pursuing promising technology to defend ourselves, our friends and our allies is in our interests or in the interests of world peace.' ...

I know many of you are wondering about the status of US economic sanctions against India. To again quote Deputy Secretary of State Armitage, 'I think it is quite clear the direction in which we are heading.' My advice is to watch this space. Until that moment, the Bush administration will continue to consult with Congress on the waiver of the 1998 sanctions. This administration's discussions on this subject with Congress are crucially important because we want the Senate and the House of Representatives to be full partners with respect to the President's big idea regarding US-India relations. In addition, the Bush administration wants to be sure that no step it takes with respect to India and sanctions undermines the global non-proliferation regime. That is decidedly in America's vital national interest and my Indian interlocutors have said that your country too opposes any increase in the number of nuclear-weapons states."

Source: Text - Ambassador Blackwell on Shared US-India National Interests, Washington File, September 6.

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.