by Enver Masud
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- India, with it's three underground nuclear tests on May 11, 1998, and Pakistan with it's tests two weeks later, have stormed the exclusive nuclear club whose membership till now was limited to the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China.
Both India and Pakistan now face U.S. sanctions, and the world faces the specter of nuclear proliferation. Sanctions will do damage to U.S. business interests. Yet it is U.S. business interests, and U.S. policy which are largely to blame for the emergence of India and Pakistan into the nuclear club.
India's tests, the first nuclear tests by India since 1974, came after the U.S. rejected India's terms for signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. India asked that in return for India's signing the CTBT, the U.S. present a schedule for eliminating the U.S. nuclear stockpile. The U.S. refused India's demand.
India's demand is consistent with the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in which the five self-declared nuclear powers -- the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China -- declared "their intention to achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to undertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament."
Having signed the NPT the nuclear powers continued to enhance their nuclear capabilities. India and Pakistan, which did not sign the non-proliferation treaty, nevertheless, showed remarkable restraint.
The New York Times reported on January 17, 1988, "Up to 1977 there had been over a thousand nuclear tests by the six countries possessing bombs, the overwhelming majority of these, of course, by the United States and the Soviet Union." The NYT also reported, "The United States has concealed at least 117 nuclear explosions at its underground test site in the Nevada desert over the past quarter-century."
And now with NATO expanding, and the U.S. extending nuclear protection to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic against Russia, the U.S. says that India "is not really entitled to nuclear protection from China -- a China with which India shares a long, disputed border that has been the subject of a bloody war, . . . and a China that has not only refused to enter into any nuclear arms reduction treaties but is expanding its nuclear arsenal" according to Thomas L. Friedman of the NYT.
Rebuffed by the U.S. refusal to take India's concerns seriously, on May 3, 1998, India's Defense Minister George Fernandes stated, "We should not only keep the nuclear option open, but also think about exercising this option to make nuclear weapons." He spoke of strategic threats from China, from Pakistan, increasing China-Pakistan collaboraton, and the transfer of nuclear and missile technology from the U.S. to China. Mr. Fernandez further stated that the "United States has officially admitted that Chinese missiles are pointed towards India."
On May 11, 1998 India "surprised" the world with five nuclear tests, and joined the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China in the nuclear club. Israel remains the sole undeclared member.
Pakistan's response to India's nuclear test was predictable given the failure of the U.N. Security Council to take effective action against India, and to extend credible security guarantees to Pakistan. Pakistan has fought three wars with India since both gained independence from the British in 1947, has seen its country dismembered when East Pakistan became independent as Bangladesh, and has a continuing dispute with India over Kashmir. The U.N. resolution of April 21, 1948 calls for the withdrawal of all outside forces from the State, and a plebiscite under the control of an administrator who would be nominated by the Secretary General. India has consistently refused to hold the plebiscite. This remains the biggest hindrance to improved relations between India and Pakistan.
So we have India testing nuclear weapons because of its fear of China, Pakistan responds to India's tests, China fears Russian missiles, Russia fears the U.S., and the U.S. is in an arms race with itself. "For 45 years of the Cold War we were in an arms race with the Soviet Union. Now it appears we're in an arms race with ourselves," says Admiral Eugene Carroll, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.), Deputy Director of the Washington based Center for Defense Information.
The U.S. $265 Billion military budget request for 1998 is five and one-half times that of the second largest spender, Russia. According to CDI: "It is nearly eighteen times as large as the combined spending of the seven countries often identified by the Pentagon as our most likely adversaries (North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Cuba)", and the United States and its close allies spend far more than the rest of the world combined. They spend more than thirty-three times as much as the seven potential 'enemies' combined!"
The U.S. also remains the worlds biggest weapons proliferator. The Associated Press, quoting a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, reported on June 26, 1997, "Global military spending declined in 1996, but weapons exports remained stable, with the United States continuing to be the world's largest arms supplier." The U.S. supplied 44 percent of the world's arms according to the peace institute study.
And the world, no doubt, has learned a lesson from the Gulf War and subsequent events -- it's still a jungle out there; only the strong survive.
The world saw the U.S. bomb Iraq back into the pre-industrial age -- a punishment grossly out of proportion to the damage inflicted by Iraq on Kuwait. And, says former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark regarding the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the U.S. dominated U.N., "More than 1.5 million have died as a result of the sanctions, and at least 5,000 continue to die every month."
And the world saw the genocide in Bosnia and Chechnya while the U.S. dominated U.N. failed to act.
And the world has seen the U.S. ready to bomb Iraq again on rather flimsy pretexts. At the February 18, 1998 meeting broadcast by CNN to the world from Columbus, Ohio, Defense Secretary Cohen told us "a 5-pound bag of Anthrax" could "kill half the population of Columbus," and that President Saddam Hussein of Iraq "was working on a missile that . . . could travel all the way from Baghdad to as far as Paris and perhaps other capitals in Europe and one day even perhaps to the United States."
While Secretary Cohen was hoping to incite U.S. passions against Iraq, a British newspaper "The Independent" reported on March 3, 1998 that: "A senior American ambassador in the Middle East is reported to have told American citizens that Iraq's biological and chemical warheads were "very ineffective" just at the moment when the U.S. and Britain were saying they posed a real threat which would justify airstrikes on Iraq."
And it's remarkable that with all the discussion of weapons proliferation Israel's nuclear arsenal merits little U.S. condemnation or sanctions. CDI estimates that Israel has over 100 nuclear weapons. Estimates of Israel's nuclear weapons by others are as high as 400 warheads. Reports have also surfaced that Israel is working jointly with the U.S. on a neutron bomb. And Israel has not signed the NPT.
According to former U.S. Congressman Paul Findley, Israel's "1981 bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear research facility near Baghdad, . . . with U.S.-made warplanes and direct U.S. assistance, helped radicalize Iraq." Iraq, a signatory to the NPT, was in compliance with the NPT which states, "the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon States from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties to the Treaty."
Until the U.S. takes credible steps to divest its nuclear arsenal, takes a principled stand toward weapons proliferation by all nations, and forgoes its assault on other nations (see Killing Hope by William Blum), the nuclear club will continue to attract new members.
Robert Lindsey, "Reagan Says America Should Not Bar Others from A-Bomb
Output," New York Times, February 1, 1980 ("America and the Islamic
Bomb: The Deadly Compromise," Chapter 5, Note 90)
Is Said to Lift India Nuclear Curbs," Reuters, September 19, 2004
unveils plans to make India 'major world power'," AFP, March 25, 2005
[With international attention focused on Iran's renegade nuclear program, a
much-trumpeted nuclear deal that was to showcase the emerging global
strategic partnership between the United States and India has begun to
unravel virtually unnoticed.--Brahma Chellaney, "Vaunted
U.S.-India nuclear deal begins to fall apart," International Herald
Tribune, February 13, 2006]
[Ronald Reagan told reporters on the campaign trail that he did not believe
the United States should stand in the way of other countries developing
nuclear weapons. "I just don't think it's any of our business," the future
president said.--David Armstrong and Joseph J. Trento, "America
and the Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise," Steerforth (October 23, 2007), p94]
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