|HOME | NEWS | REPORT|
October 15, 1999
India looks forward to improve relations with US
Amberish K Diwanji in New Delhi
India reacted with caution to the United States Senate rejecting ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the single biggest hurdle in Indo-US relations, saying it only showed the need to build a consensus among the nations concerned.
In a statement a Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said the rejection of the CTBT ratification proved that the treaty was not a simple, uncomplicated matter.
The statement said that India's position on the CTBT had been articulated by the prime minister in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 1998 and reiterated in Parliament on December 15, 1998.
Prime Minister A B Vajpayee had said: "India is now engaged in discussions with our key interlocuters on a range of issues, including the CTBT. We are prepared to bring these discussions to a successful conclusion, so that the entry into force of the CTBT is not delayed beyond September 1999. We expect that other countries, as indicated in Article 14 of the CTBT, will also adhere to the Treaty without conditions."
The statement added that the PM had announced a voluntary moratorium on any further underground nuclear explosive tests.
The spokesman pointed out that only 26 countries of the 44 listed in Article 14 have so far ratified the treaty. Article 14 lists the 44 countries that possess nuclear technology and whose signature and ratification is a necessity to bring the CTBT into force. India and Pakistan are among the 44 countries listed.
The spokesman added that a consensus on the CTBT remains as much a priority for India as it was for the US, despite the US Senate's rejection of the ratification.
Asked whether the CTBT would figure in the talks between US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, the spokesman replied that it may be discussed. "The topics for discussion cannot be anticipated," he said.
Talbott and Singh have held eight rounds of talks so far, after India carried out nuclear explosions in May 1998 at Pokhran. Much of the talks have centred on India agreeing to sign the CTBT, something that the US then considered vital.
However, with the US Senate's rejection, it is now clear that the single biggest hurdle between India and the US has been suddenly pushed to the backburner.
"It is not exactly celebration time, but the fact remains that with the US Senate's rejection, the US administration is in no position to force India to sign the CTBT. They have lost the moral high ground," said sources in the MEA.
The sources, however, warn that India must not become complacent. Not too long ago, Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth had declared: "If India and Pakistan sign and ratify the CTBT, it will help the (US president Bill) Clinton administration in persuading an unwilling US Senate."
The sources said that the new line could well be that India must now take the initiative in signing and ratifying the CTBT so that the remaining countries follow suit. Many observers also point out that the ratification defeat in the Senate has more to do with US internal politics (the Senate is dominated by the Republicans who are opposed to Democrat Bill Clinton) rather than an outright rejection of the CTBT.
"Though Clinton is unlikely to send the CTBT back to the Senate right now, the moment the Senate turns favourable to his policies, he will send it back. Which really means that the current rejection is only temporary," the sources warn.
Also, though the CTBT is now in the cold, the fact remains that most nuclear power countries in the world have on their own agreed to a moratorium on nuclear explosions. "Unless a particular country decides to overturn this moratorium and start testing nuclear explosions once more, the fact is that a ban on nuclear testing has de facto been accepted world wide even if it has been rejected de jure," the sources pointed out.
Nevertheless, beyond the debate on the CTBT lies the plain fact that Indo-US ties have no insurmountable hurdle. "No doubt the CTBT will continue to be discussed but it is now for us to take advantage of the new non-CTBT climate and push Indo-US ties to new heights and into unexplored areas," the sources added.
With the new government committed to re-starting the stalled liberalisation process, including opening up of the insurance sector, resurgence in economic ties might just be the catalyst to enhancing Indo-US relations in these times of no-CTBT.
ELECTION 99 |
SINGLES | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | MONEY
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK