INDIA'S DETONATION OF THREE NUCLEAR DEVICES (House of Representatives - May 12, 1998)

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 21, 1997, the gentleman from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) is recognized during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.

Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat surprised by all the media hype and the reaction of certain nations around the world, including our own country, concerning India's most recent announcement of detonating three nuclear bombs.

Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues may recall, India exploded its first nuclear device in 1974. Since then over the years India has pleaded with the five nuclear nations, namely China, France, then the Soviet Union, now Russia, Great Britain, and the United States and with the nations of the world that if the world is serious about the implementation of the 1970 Nonproliferation Treaty and the terms of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, it is imperative that the five nuclear nations must, over a period of time, dismantle their nuclear arsenals if these two treaties would ever have any real meaning at all.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to my colleagues and to the administration, let us not be too quick to condemn the most populous democratic nation in the world, India, with a population of approximately 980 million people, for exploding these three nuclear devices, by the way, in their own backyard.

Mr. Speaker, for some 24 years India and its leaders have pleaded with the five nuclear nations and the nations of the world to stop this nuclear madness. Mr. Speaker, I submit it is quite hypocritical for the five nuclear nations to tell the world to sign on to the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty against testing, but these same nuclear nations can keep their nuclear bombs to maintain their nuclear options, and I suppose to use these nuclear weapons of mass destruction against their enemies?

Mr. Speaker, in order to maintain our own nuclear bombs ready for use, our Nation is expending about $35 billion a year to sustain our nuclear options. I raise the question, Mr. Speaker, if the American taxpayers know that our nuclear program alone costs approximately $35 billion a year, do we need to have these weapons? Is the cost worth the effort?

Mr. Speaker, the issue of nuclear nonproliferation now has come to the forefront. The issue is not that India has exploded these nuclear bombs. The issue is whether the five nuclear nations are willing and committed to the proposition that the manufacturing and production of nuclear bombs is not in their interest and certainly not for the world as well.

Mr. Speaker, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently issued a statement and a tabulation or record of nuclear tests or nuclear bombs that were exploded in the past, and that these nuclear explosives were conducted by the five nuclear nations. For example, China, since 1964, when it started its nuclear testing program, has exploded over 45 nuclear bombs on this planet. France started its nuclear testing program in Algeria, and after Algeria gained its independence against French colonial rule, the French decided, they needed to go somewhere else. Guess where they went? In the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. Did they ask the French Polynesians whether they wanted nuclear bombs there? No. President DeGaulle decided to go there unilaterally and test over 210 nuclear bombs, which were exploded in the atmosphere, on the surface, and under the ocean surface.

Let us look at the record of the Soviet Union or now Russia, which started its nuclear testing program since 1949. It exploded 715 nuclear bombs; 715 nuclear bombs. The British exploded nuclear bombs in a number of 45. And now our own Nation, we exploded 66 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands immediately following World War II. It was in 1954 that we exploded the most powerful hydrogen bomb ever known to mankind; known as the Bravo shot, that hydrogen bomb was 1,000 times more powerful than the bombs we exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now India has exploded only four.

Mr. Speaker, I submit to my colleagues and to the American people, India's explosion of these nuclear bombs is because its own national security is at risk. China having a nuclear arsenal; if you were among the 980 million Indians living in a country like India, I would feel very uncomfortable if my neighbor has nuclear bombs and I do not have any to defend myself. But that is not the issue. The issue here is whether the five nuclear nations are willing to dismantle their own nuclear arsenals and let us get rid of this nuclear madness.

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From Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 11, 1998


India Tests Three Nuclear Devices


India first demonstrated its nuclear capability when it conducted a `peaceful nuclear experiment' in May 1974. Twenty-four years later, India has conducted its second series of tests today. Included in this series, according to Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee, were a `fission device, a low-yield device, and a thermo-nuclear device.' This breaks an international moratorium on nuclear tests; China conducted its last test in 1996. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, banning all tests everywhere, has been signed by 149 nations and ratified by 13 of the required 44 nations.

Country        First test Last test No. of tests 
China                1964      1996           45 
France               1960      1996          210 
Russia/USSR          1949      1990          715 
United Kingdom       1952      1991           45 
United States        1945      1992         1030 
India                1974      1998            4 

Below is a summary of the Indian nuclear program, current capabilities, and delivery options, derived from Tracking Nuclear Proliferation 1998, forthcoming from the Carnegie Endowment.


After years of building larger-scale plutonium production reactors, and facilities to separate the material for weapons use, India is estimated to have approximately 400 kg of weapons-usable plutonium today. Given that it takes about 6 kg of plutonium to construct a basic plutonium bomb, this amount would be sufficient for 65 bombs. With more sophisticated designs, it is possible that this estimate could go as high as 90 bombs.


India has two potential delivery options. First, India posses several different aircraft capable of nuclear delivery, including the Jaguar, Mirage 2000, MiG-27 and MiG-29. Second, would be to mount the weapon as a warhead on a ballistic missile. It is thought that India has developed warheads for this purpose, but it is not known to have tested such a warhead. India has two missile systems potentially capable of delivering a nuclear weapon: Prithvi, which can carry a 1000 kg payload to approximately 150 km, or a 500 kg payload to 250 km; and Agni, a two-stage medium-range missile, which can conceivably carry a 1000 kg payload to as far 1500-2000 km. Reports in 1997 indicated that India had possibly deployed, or at least was storing, conventionally armed Prithvi missiles in Punjab, very near the Pakistani border.


India had not been a party to any aspect of the international non-proliferation regime until 1997, when it signed the Chemical Weapons Convention. Among the significant treaties it has not signed are the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and India has a very limited safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency that does not cover any of its nuclear research facilities. In this sense, there is no multilateral mechanism through which to sanction India for its recent nuclear tests. However, the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1994 with the leadership of Senator John Glenn (D-Ohio), imposes automatic and severe sanctions. These provision, codified as section 102(b) of the Arms Export Control Act, are detailed below:


Sanctions For Nuclear Detonations or Transfers of Nuclear Explosive Devices

If . . . `the President determines that any country, [after 4/30/94] (A) transfers to a non-nuclear-weapon state a nuclear explosive device, (B) is a non-nuclear weapon state and either--(i) receives a nuclear explosive device, or (ii) detonates a nuclear explosive device,'

Then . . . `The President shall forthwith impose the following sanctions:

(A) The United States Government shall terminate assistance to that country under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, except for humanitarian assistance or food of other agricultural commodities.

(B) The United States Government shall terminate--(i) sales to that country under this Act of any defense articles, defense services, or design and construction services, and (ii) licenses for the export to that country of any item on the United States Munitions List.

(C) The United States Government shall terminate all foreign military financing for that country under this Act.

(D) The United States Government shall deny to that country and credit, credit guarantees, or other financial assistance by any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States Government, except that the sanction of this subparagraph shall not apply--(i) to any transaction subject to the reporting requirements of title V of the National Security Act of 1947 (relating to congressional oversight of intelligence activities), or (ii) to humanitarian assistance.

(E) The United States Government shall oppose, in accordance with section 701 of the International Financial Institutions Act (22 U.S.C. 262d), the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance to that country by any international financial institution.

(F) The United States Government shall prohibit any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit to the government of that country, except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities.

(G) The authorities of section 6 of the Export Administration Act of 1979 shall be used to prohibit exports to that country of specific goods and technology (excluding food and other agricultural commodities), except that such prohibition shall not apply to any transaction subject to the reporting requirements of title V of the National Security Act of 1947 (relating to congressional oversight of intelligence activities).'

Waiver: [None]. The President may delay the sanction for 30 days.

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