17 Jun 2009,
NEW DELHI: As the Obama administration announces plans to mount a diplomatic offensive to push India and other countries to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), India at this stage is anticipating more pressure on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), which looks at clamping down on material used for making nuclear weapons.
Though the Obama administration has made its intention of pushing the CTBT very clear, pressure is expected to mount only after the US Congress ratifies the treaty, sources said. And this is not going to be easy as President Barack Obama does not yet have the required numbers in the US Senate to push through the CTBT.
But the FMCT, which is seeing a revival due to US efforts, is being seen here as more troublesome for India. Mr Obama’s announcement last month that the US is ready to negotiate a new treaty that `verifiably e nds’’ the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons has infused new life into negotiations. And the Conference on Disarmament, which has 65 members, also agreed recently to start negotiations after breaking the deadlock.
Though New Delhi has said that it is ready to take part in FMCT negotiations , it has refused to accept `` obligations’’ that hinder India’s “strategic programme” or the three-stage nuclear programme.
`India is willing to join only a non-discriminatory , multi-laterally negotiated and internationally verifiable FMCT,’’ said a statement by India in the recent plenary at the Conference on Disarmament. Even though India has said that the FMCT is the first step towards global nuclear disarmament, it has maintained the treaty should not “place an undue burden on our military, non-proscribed activities.”
`Nuclear weapons are an integral part of our national security and will remain so pending the global elimination of all nuclear weapons on a universal, non-discriminatory basis,” the Indian statement said. India’s position is expected to invite criticism from different quarters.
Then there is also the Pakistan factor. Islamabad is using the Indo-US nuclear deal in discussions to target India’s existing stockpiles. In a position that is entirely India-centric , Pakistan at the recent disarmament conference argued that recent nuclear deal has led to an imbalance in the region and that the FMCT should look at existing stockpiles.
India has said that the FMCT should deal with only future production of fissile material for nuclear weapons but Pakistan has continued to argue in favour of curbs on existing material.
As regards the Fissile Material Treaty... existing and future stocks has assumed greater significance for Pakistan in the light of the nuclear cooperations in our neighbourhood. These upset the strategic balance in the region. Unless the equilibrium is re-established the fashioning of an appropriate FMCT appears to be a difficult challenge,’’ said a statement by Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN ambassador Zamir Akram. Islamabad has further indicated that it is not for a treaty that legalises the `` national moratoria of nuclear weapons states’’ and leaves existing stockpiles as they are. But Pakistan’s claims run contrary to its own record of production of fissile material and on proliferation.
Pak pushes for FMCT to nuke India?s stockpile- Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times