May 20, 1998
SUBJECT: India & China
I enclose a short paper written by Henry Sokolski and Tim Hoyt of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) on the steps the U.S. should take in the wake of Indias recent nuclear weapons tests. Sokolski is the executive director of NPEC and the former deputy for nonproliferation policy in the Bush Administrations Pentagon.
the Indian Tests: Sanctions for India & China
Now that India has
tested thermonuclear weapons and demanded recognition as a nuclear weapons
state, more than a few foreign policy pundits are arguing that nothing
much can be done and that sanctions are a mistake. Yet, if past history
with China, Iraq and North Korea teaches us anything, it is that American
efforts to be pragmatic and selective about proliferation are simply a
prescription for more trouble.
In fact, the challenge
posed by Indias nuclear weapons program has just begun. India is
in the process of developing a strategic missile capability. U.S. efforts
should focus on stopping India from fielding the long-range land or submarine-based
rocket systems currently in development. To head off what would be a quantum
leap in Indias nuclear strike capabilities, the U.S. should announce
now that it will inflict trade sanctions (including sanctions against
the import of Indian textiles) in the event that India deploys these missile
In the mean time,
current financial sanctions against India should be applied rigorously.
New Delhi officials claim they have considered all the ramifications of
these sanctions, but as the rupee falls to an all-time low against the
U.S. dollar and Indias credit rating totters, this appears questionable.
To keep the pressure on, the President should prohibit U.S. commercial
and investment banks from dealing with companies owned in part or whole
by the Indian government. This will hurt India economically, but that
is the point.
Such steps are necessary
if U.S. sanctions are to be taken seriously not just by Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) officials (who hold power by the slimmest of majorities),
but also Pakistan, (which is demanding action against India to forestall
its own testing), North Korea, (which is exploiting the crisis by threatening
to restart its own nuclear program), and Iraq, (which announced this weekend
that Iraqi nuclear scientists are now working with Indian scientists).
U.S. industries trying to penetrate Indian markets, of course, will complain.
But having their short-term interest subsidized by U.S. taxpayer-guaranteed
loans hardly speaks to the long-term security interests of the United
States and those of the region.
In addition, we should
resist what is likely to be the Clinton Administrations policy for
dealing with Indias tests -- trading off sanctions for Indias
signature to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). With large supercomputers
(many courtesy of the U.S.) and a full set of nuclear testing benchmarks
to conduct computer nuclear test simulations, New Delhis willingness
to join up will have little or no impact on Indias nuclear capabilities.
Equally important, cutting such a deal will only invite the worlds
other near-nuclear nations to test as well. Instead of taking this course,
the administration should let the sanctions sink in until the current
government gives way to a fresh leadership more willing to work with Pakistan
and to forswear the next strategic weapons step -- further missile deployment.
Meanwhile, the U.S.
must end its lax efforts to stem both Chinas strategic modernization
program and its assistance to Pakistans missile and nuclear programs,
which helped prompt Indias decision to test. Surely, no one in Southwest
Asia (or, for that matter, anywhere else) is likely to take U.S. nonproliferation
concerns seriously if Washington continues to turn a blind eye to the
assistance it gives to Chinas strategic programs.
The U.S. should, at a minimum, stop helping known Chinese proliferators by giving them U.S. military-related technology and by subsidizing the export of that technology with taxpayer-guaranteed loans. There should be no satellite and high-technology transfers to firms known by our intelligence agencies to have engaged in illicit proliferation activity in the past two years. And President Clinton should finally impose U.S. nonproliferation sanctions called for by U.S. law against Chinese firms helping Pakistans missile and nuclear programs. Indeed, if the White House is at all serious about stemming further proliferation in Southwest Asia, this, not further strategic technology cooperation with Beijing, should be the theme of any presidential trip to China.
Henry Sokolski is the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Washington, D.C., and Tim Hoyt is a research associate at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.