INDIA'S NUCLEAR TESTS (Senate - May 12, 1998)

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Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I understand that the Senate is not on any legislation right now. I would like to take just a few minutes of the Senate's time to talk about the disturbing events that happened in South Asia yesterday.

Mr. President, to paraphrase a speech that President Roosevelt gave 57 years ago in the House Chamber, yesterday is a day that will live in infamy, for the Nation of India. At a time when world tensions are being reduced, when the cold war is over, when nuclear arsenals are being reduced, at a time when we are on the threshold of signing a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Nation of India deliberately and provocatively, with total disregard for world opinion and total disregard for regional stability in South Asia, detonated three nuclear weapons. And to make matters even worse, they were detonated near the border with Pakistan.

These tests were conducted without advance warning to the international community. They clearly work against the goals of nonproliferation and international stability. Indian's Prime Minister's principal secretary said afterwards that with the test, `India has a proven capability for a weaponized nuclear program.'

Mr. President, India's behavior is clearly unacceptable. These underground tests could well trigger a nuclear arms race in the region.

I believe that the United States should be prepared to exercise the full range and depth of sanctions available under law. For example, the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994 requires the President to cut off almost all U.S. Government aid to India, bar American banks from making loans to the Government, stop exports of American products with military uses such as machine tools and computers, and, most importantly, oppose aid to India by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

An article that appeared this morning in the New York Times pointed out that, `India is the world's largest borrower from the World Bank, with more than $44 billion in loans; it is expecting about $3 billion in loans and credits this year.'

Well, I think it is time for the United States to exercise its voice and vote in the World Bank, and let India know that no longer can it come and get that kind of money if all it is going to do is spend its money on developing and testing not only fission weapons but yesterday a thermonuclear weapon, a hydrogen bomb.

Further quoting from this article, Monday's tests `came as a complete shock, a bolt out of the blue' to the White House, one senior administration official said. `It's a fork in the road.' `Will India and Pakistan be locked in a nuclear arms race? Will the Chinese resume nuclear testing now?'

What is also disturbing is that our intelligence agencies obviously did not pick up any signs that the tests were imminent and reported that activities at the test site appeared to be routine.

Let's see now. How much did we spend on our intelligence agencies last year? About thirty billion dollars? And they can't even tell us when one of the largest nations on Earth is going to explode nuclear weapons? You wonder what that $30 billion is going for. I think a thorough review needs to be made of our intelligence operation.

Back to the point, Senator John Glenn, our colleague, who is the author of the law, is quoted as saying, `Those sanctions are mandatory,' and the only way to delay them is if the President tells Congress that their immediate imposition would harm national security. And that delay can only last 30 days. Congress can only remove the sanctions by passing a law or joint resolution.

`It would be hard to avoid the possibility of sanctions,' a senior State Department official said. `There is no wiggle room in the law.'

Further quoting our colleague, who is quoted again in the New York Times this morning, Senator Glenn called the tests `the triumph of fear over prudence, a monumental setback for efforts to halt the global spread of nuclear weapons.'

Mr. President, the Nation of India is no longer the nation of Mohandas Gandhi, I am sorry to say. The Nation of India has embarked on a new and dangerous course in South Asia, one that I think has ominous foreboding for all of their neighbors in that area, and also for us here in the United States.

Of course, it is my fervent hope that India's neighbors will show restraint. It is my hope and my desire that Pakistan and China and other nations in that region will recognize the importance of caution despite this dangerous, inflammatory and provocative move by India. Again, they should not follow the lead of India but recognize the importance of restraining a nuclear arms race.

I believe that this Senate should also press for appropriate action by the international community. The international community should join with the United States in bringing to bear whatever sanctions it can, especially in the World Bank to cut off all loans to India.

Again, what India has done underscores the need for a nuclear test ban treaty. But now it becomes clear why, in August of 1996, after years of difficult negotiations, we finally got a final treaty supported by all countries for a comprehensive test ban, India refused to sign. Maybe now we know why.

The treaty was endorsed by a 158-to-3 margin at the United Nations. However, India walked out and said they weren't going to sign.

We cannot give up. We cannot let this action by the Government in India deter us from our goal of a comprehensive test ban.

I do not in any way mean my remarks today to implicate all of the wonderful people of India, many of whom I have counted as my friends, many of whom worked very hard on the issues of human rights, social justice, ending child labor. But I do wish by my remarks today to implicate and condemn in the strongest possible language permitted in this body the actions by the Government of India. This was its decision. This was its deliberate decision to conduct these tests in clear disregard for the opinion of the world.

So the Government of India bears a heavy responsibility for what follows. I hope they do not, although my hopes seem to be feint in light of what the Government of India said yesterday, intend to weaponize their nuclear program. Not only have they tested these weapons, they seem to have sent a clear signal that they are going to incorporate these weapons in their military arsenal both for short-range, medium- and obviously perhaps even for long-range purposes.

At a time when India needs to invest in education, when it needs to invest in its infrastructure, at a time when India really needs to reach peaceful agreements with its neighbor, Pakistan, on the issue of Kashmir, which is still a volatile issue. At a time when China and India need to get together to discuss their roles in South Asia in the future, India has thumbed its nose at its neighbors. When the Government of Pakistan came to power under the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it reached out to India, to the previous government. Prime Minister Sharif held out the olive branch. He asked that talks be conducted, that they take steps to reduce the tensions in the region.

Those talks proceeded, tensions were reduced, and then elections were held in India and a new government was elected. The hopes and the dreams, the actions taken by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, and others in the region are now dashed and doomed if India doesn't make a quick U-turn in its policies. But India has already taken its actions, and its actions, I am afraid, will have very serious repercussions.

But, again, we cannot give up. I know that Pakistan several times called for restraint, to call for talks.

Well, I call on Pakistan and the other nations of the region not give up on their efforts to pursue a peaceful path, to again reach out to India to begin the long and arduous task of negotiations to reduce tensions and to reduce the nuclear arsenal in that area of the world.

I remain fearful not only because of Pakistan but because of China. What will China do now? Will China believe that it must now proceed to further test its nuclear weapons to show India that it is not going to be intimidated? No, Mr. President, what India did yesterday will live in infamy, and it is sad because India has made great progress in the last 50 years. I note at this time the President has recalled our ambassador to India. I compliment him for that action.

Quite frankly, I hope this sends another strong signal to India that it is not going to be business as usual with the U.S. Government because of what they did yesterday. It cannot be said too strongly that India took a terrible, terrible step yesterday and only India can undo it. I hope they will. But their words and their actions indicate to me they may and probably will not. I feel sorry for India. I feel sorry for the people of India. I feel sorry for the kids that are working in the plants and the factories and the carpet looms who want a better future and a better education. I feel sorry for the millions of people in poverty who want a little bit better life in India but are now going to have to struggle because more and more of their money is going into their weapons and their nuclear arsenal. And I feel sorry for the people of Pakistan, too, again, who have made great strides in the last 50 years to build a nation, to build an infrastructure that will allow for a moderate Islamic State to exist in that area, and I feel sorry for the people of China. What is its Government going to do now?

Mr. President, we can only hope and pray that South Asia will now see this as a sign that they must get together and sign a comprehensive test ban treaty now, stop nuclear testing now, stop the arms race now; that India and China and Pakistan must get together and work out their problems through serious peaceful negotiations and not through the bluster of provocative actions taken by India yesterday to increase the arms race, especially the nuclear arms race.

Mr. President, I call on India to disavow what they did yesterday, to admit they made a mistake, to reach out to their neighbors in a serious attempt to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and to stop this madness once and for all.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.

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Mr. FAIRCLOTH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for 10 minutes in morning business.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.