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U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

Briefers: JAMES P. RUBIN




Draft Doctrine on Nuclear Deterrence


India's Position on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)


DPB # 106
TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, 1999 12:40 P.M.


QUESTION: The Indians have put out a draft report concerning their nuclear doctrine. Do you have any observations on that?

MR. RUBIN: The Indians have been saying for some time that they would produce such a doctrine. They did not share this document with us prior to its release. During this past year, we've had a senior-level dialogue with Indian leaders and we've taken the position that nuclear weapons do not contribute to greater security in South Asia. We've been urging the signature on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and we will continue our efforts to de-nuclearize the Subcontinent. We will continue to make the case to both India and Pakistan that possession of nuclear weapons in this form or similar forms doesn't enhance their security. Clearly, they're moving in the wrong direction by trying to create such a capability. We think that this is a case we will continue to make with them.

We have sought clarification during our discussions that were led by Deputy Secretary Talbott on Indian thinking on their security and defense issues, and we've encouraged restraint in India's nuclear and missile programs. The draft doctrine that was just released will certainly be a subject for discussion at our next session. We think, overall, our dialogue has been productive. We think that India has taken some positive steps on areas of concern to us. For example, India declared a moratorium on further nuclear testing and publicly committed to move towards adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by September 1999.

Prime Minister Vajpayee stated this week that he wants to build a consensus on the Comprehensive Test Ban to allow the new government to approve India's joining the Treaty. However, we will encourage India to take additional steps to demonstrate its declared intention to avoid a nuclear and missile race with its neighbors.

In light of the fact that India now has a caretaker government, we haven't scheduled any formal discussions, but we do hope to have a session sometime in the next several weeks. We may have occasion to see Indian Foreign Minister Singh at the UN General Assembly next month.

QUESTION: You made a reference there to encourage India to take additional steps on the CTBT. Could you be more specific?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, we would want to see India develop an export control system that deals effectively with sensitive technologies and material; a multilateral moratorium on production of fissile material, pending negotiation of a treaty banning the production of such material; and we also, obviously, would want to see them have direct talks with Pakistan on the underlying issues.

So in general, what we're looking for is not only signature and ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban, but an overall prudent posture of restraints covering nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.

QUESTION: Maybe I misheard, but it seemed to me a bit of a contradiction to say that the Indians are moving clearly in the wrong direction and at the same time saying that your dialogue with them on reaching a resolution to de-nuclearize the Subcontinent has been productive. Are you saying that in terms of CTBT?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, it's been productive in terms of the CTBT - that's one objective. We have a number of parallel objectives, and we try to urge them to move in the right direction in all of these parallel objectives. In some cases we believe we've had some productive responses; in other cases like this, we have not.

QUESTION: Are you saying that the United States finds that India has no legitimacy in deploying a nuclear deterrent that might could be used to counter Pakistan or China? It just should be that they deploy; is that correct?

MR. RUBIN: We don't think it's in the national interest of these two countries, the security interests -- this is our view -- to develop a nuclear weapon capability; to develop an elaborate deterrent and then to encourage an arms race by both India and Pakistan. We think at the end of that process, the security of India and Pakistan will be worse off for both of them if they move in that direction. That is our view; we think it would be unwise to move in the direction of developing a nuclear deterrent and encouraging thereby the other country to develop a nuclear deterrent and thereby creating an action-reaction cycle that will increase the risks to both countries. That's our view.

QUESTION: But it is happening. It's fait accompli as far as India is concerned, is it not?

MR. RUBIN: As I indicated in response to some of your colleagues' question, the Indians have been telling us that they intend to move towards an adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban by September 1999. So that would be a step in the right direction if that were to occur. They did so far declare a moratorium on further nuclear testing. So it's a much more complicated situation. As I indicated in response to your colleague's question, there are a number of objectives; some which have been moving in the right direction and this one which is not.

QUESTION: Do I understand you correctly that you haven't seen this draft?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: So basically you don't know what's in it?

MR. RUBIN: I certainly would hope that you, as a journalist, would not be discouraging us from commenting on the basic elements of it that we're aware of.

QUESTION: When do you expect - have you asked for a copy?

MR. RUBIN: I am sure that in New Delhi that they are working closely with the Indian Government to get a copy of this document provided - the portion of which is intended to be made public.

QUESTION: I understand the need to walk a line with the Indians and the Pakistanis here, but can you imagine a more provocative act in the last 24 hours by the Indians than going ahead with this nuclear doctrine? I mean, I don't see them doing - there are some things they've said they would do, but in practice I don't see them doing anything but running headlong toward the pursuit of nuclear weapons and weaponizing themselves.

MR. RUBIN: Well, they've been developing this doctrine for some time since their nuclear tests in May. So the fact that they've now put it on paper is not a surprise to us.

What matters - and what will matter to us and to the world and to the people of the Subcontinent - is what transpires over the coming years. There are risks that we're concerned about - deeply concerned about - in this area. That's why Deputy Secretary Talbott has put such an extraordinary amount of time into discussions with India and Pakistan to try to deal with the situation and turn it around before both sides head down a path that will not be in either of their interests.

But, yes, we're concerned about it and we're working on it. But there so far has been only limited success.

QUESTION: And also, there were reports recently that some senior Saudi defense officials were taken on a tour of Pakistan's nuclear weapons facilities and production facilities. The suggestion that Pakistan might not be doing what it should be as far as export controls go - can you comment on that?

MR. RUBIN: Well, we do regard one of our objectives in our dialogue with India and Pakistan to develop an export control system that deals effectively with sensitive technologies and materials. That's an objective of ours; it's a matter of concern of ours in this area. It's been a concern for some time, that's why we're working on it.

Without specific reference to the specific report you mentioned, we do want to ensure that no sensitive technologies that could increase the risk of other countries developing nuclear weapons or advanced missile delivery systems was coming from Pakistan or India. That's why that is one of the key elements in our approach.

QUESTION: But you don't know whether that report is true?

MR. RUBIN: I'll have to check what our public posture is on that report.

QUESTION: Just in response to that earlier question, Jamie, it sounded as if you were saying that the US wants to prevent India from continuing down a path of no return with regard to development of nuclear weapons. Do you still see that it's possible to get them to stop? And if they don't, what are the ramifications for the Indians?

MR. RUBIN: Well, if the Comprehensive Test Ban were signed and ratified and if there were a multilateral moratorium that India lived up to and Pakistan lived up to on producing fissile material, or if a treaty banning that were developed, and if there were restraints on their missile systems to prevent those systems from being mated with nuclear weapons, we think we would have gone a long, long way to heading off some of the dangers that might come if India and Pakistan were to go full bore for a full nuclear program and a missile delivery system designed to deliver those weapons. So that's the objective.

I think most people recognize that India has shown a capability to develop a nuclear weapon; they've exploded them. So has Pakistan. The United States doesn't control events all over the world. We can't stop that from here. What we can do is make clear the dangers we see from that, and we can try to explain the reasons why both parties would be better off developing a system like the one I described.

QUESTION: And in talks over the last year and a half, do you have reason to be optimistic that they appreciate that and are --

MR. RUBIN: Well, as I said, they do - India, for example, has indicated its intention to adhere to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all nuclear testing, which is a very, very serious restraint on their program.

QUESTION: Does the release of this doctrine mean at all that the US might reconsider re-imposing some of the sanctions that were lifted?

MR. RUBIN: At this point, this doctrine is not something we have fully read; nor is it anything more than a piece of paper.

What I think will count with us is the work that we do with them in the discussions on the other objectives I've described as well as other developments that might occur.

QUESTION: Can you remind us, though, on the subject of the state of any sanctions which do remain from last year? I can't remember.

MR. RUBIN: It's very complex and I would like to get you a piece of paper that explains that complex set of measures that exist --

QUESTION: Some remain yet?

MR. RUBIN: On India and Pakistan, yes, there are remaining sanctions, yes. And I will get the details for you because they're very complex.


(The briefing concluded at 1:35 P.M.)