INDIA'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM (Senate - June 15, 1998)

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Mr. KYL. Mr. President, given the fact that the managers of the tobacco legislation are not here even though the Senate was to begin reconsideration of that proposal at 2 o'clock, I would like to continue to speak in morning business for about 5 minutes to put an article in the Record and ask unanimous consent at this time to include that article at the conclusion of my remarks.

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

(See Exhibit 1.)

Mr. KYL. Mr. President, this is an article from the Washington Post by Victor Gilinsky and Paul Leventhal. Victor Gilinsky is an energy consultant, and Paul Leventhal is president of the Nuclear Control Institute. At the time of the 1974 nuclear test by India, they were, respectively, a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Senate staff.

They write about the history of the nuclear program conducted by India, illustrating the complicity that the United States has had in the Indian program and, more importantly, the misplaced reliance that the United States has put in arms control agreements, which in the end never quite seem to bear the fruit that we had hoped for.

In this case, it was part of the Atoms for Peace Program that the United States participated in as a result of a previous treaty, and it was part of the Atoms for Peace Program whereby the United States and Canada and other nuclear powers would provide some material for India for peaceful purposes. They had a reactor built by Canada. It was made essentially operable, according to this article, by the United States providing 21 tons of heavy water. This, of course, was all under a promise that the Indians made to the United States that the reactor would be used only for peaceful purposes. But apparently India used plutonium from this reactor in its 1974 nuclear explosion. What the authors said--I will quote: `. . .neither capital'--meaning the capital of Canada or the United States--`has uttered a peep about this matter is symptomatic of Western complicity in the South Asian nuclear crisis and of the present paralysis in dealing with it.'

What they are pointing out is that when we negotiate a peace treaty with countries which says, `You won't develop nuclear weapons--if you will promise not to do that, then we will provide you peaceful nuclear technology,' it is almost impossible for that peaceful technology to end up in a nuclear weapons program if that is the country's ultimate desire. And, in the case of India, for whatever reasons it decided it was in its national interest to produce a nuclear weapon, apparently it used the product of this Atoms for Peace peaceful nuclear program as part of its weapon program in violation of the treaty.

But for the United States, or Canada, or the other nuclear powers of the world to complain about this would require us to have to admit to something that we are not about to admit; namely, that these treaties don't work; that there is no way to enforce them; and that, in point of fact, a program that we had every hope would be a success--the Atoms for Peace Program--has in fact helped to contribute to the development of a nuclear weapon by the country of India.

The article goes on to make some other points that I think are important; that is, that the country of India has broken several promises here in the development of its nuclear weaponry; that it had always complained about the charter of the new International Atomic Energy Agency in the 1950s.

The article points out:

It was duplicity in carrying out the Atoms for Peace agreements in the 1960's. It undermined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with its `peaceful' bomb of 1974.

That is referring to the fact that the Indians got around the violation by claiming that the bomb they exploded was for peaceful purposes. And apparently the United States looked the other way.

But the article goes on to note, `Despite this history, each new generation of American policymakers thinks that by being a little more accommodating'--for countries like India--we will then gain their restraint and their acceptance of the nuclear controls that we would like to place upon them. Of course, India is not alone in this. I am not being any more critical of India than I would be of other countries that would be engaged in the same kind of conduct.

But what this article concludes is `. . .American self-deception that stems from a mix of idealism and commercial greed.' is the reason these countries have been able to get away with this for so long--again, `. . .American self-deception that stems from a mix of idealism and commercial greed.'

Mr. President, that is exactly what we have seen with the desire to sell virtually anything to nobody, the argument always being, if we will not sell it to them, then someone else will, which is always an excuse for transferring technology. That we have come to learn with some sadness recently. That should not have been transferred to China, for example.

We also find this concept of idealism--that if they will just sign one more treaty, if we will just get one more commitment from a country that it won't engage in conduct that we believe inimical to world peace, that just maybe, therefore, we will have the peace that we so earnestly desire.

The fact of the matter is that when it comes to a nation's self-defense, it is going to do what it deems in its best interest irrespective of a piece of paper, of a treaty, of a commitment, or of a promise to the rest of the world, and it is not going to be swayed by world opinion or even by the punishment that nations or organizations may mete out.

Thus, India and Pakistan were all too willing to suffer the opprobrium of the world community. They were very--I shouldn't say `happy'--but they were willing to suffer the constraints of the economic sanctions that are automatically imposed upon them as a result of their nuclear programs and their testing, because, first of all, it is domestic politics for them, but, even more importantly, they deem it to be in their national self-interest for the preservation of their countries.

You cannot expect a treaty that has been signed to prevent a country from doing what it believes is in its national self-interest. To think that the United States could, therefore, dissuade a country like North Korea or Iran or Iraq or one of the other so-called rogue nations of the world to forego the development or testing of nuclear weapons if only we could get everybody in the world to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is, I think, a ludicrous, self-deceptive, naive thought.

That is why I thought the article these two gentlemen wrote and was published in the Washington Post today is so interesting, because it gives a little bit of perspective. It reminds us of how, with the best intentions, we signed treaties in the past. Part of the terms of those treaties was that we would supply atoms for peace, but when a country deemed it to be in their self-interest to use that largesse to develop their nuclear program, they did it. And after having developed their nuclear program, and this having been a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we should not find it as a surprise that they are then going to test those nuclear weapons which would, if these countries were to sign the CTBT, be a violation of that treaty as well.

Mr. President, I conclude with this point. There has been some talk lately that the explosions of the Pakistani and Indian nuclear devices suggest it is now time for the Senate to take up the CTBT, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Exactly the opposite is true, as the distinguished majority leader of the Senate pointed out in a television interview a week ago last Sunday. He said it is 180 degrees wrong. He said the fact is that these two tests demonstrate that a test ban treaty will not have any effect on a country that deems it in its national self-interest to test these weapons; that a piece of paper is not going to stop them.

It is interesting that in the last 2 1/2 years, during the time that the United States has had a moratorium on testing, and that we have supposedly led world opinion in encouraging other nations not to test, five nations have tested nuclear devices--probably five. We know about France and China and now India and Pakistan, and perhaps Russia. But, you see, as to verifying whether Russia actually tested at its test site in the Novaya Zemlya, we don't know for sure whether that happened, or at least we can't discuss it publicly because the means that we have for detecting those explosions is not adequate for the verification that would be called for under the CTBT.

But we know that at least four, if not five, nations have tested, and this is all during the time that the United States has been leading the way by not testing, by having a unilateral moratorium here. The only other, of course, Great Britain, has acknowledged having nuclear weapons that it hasn't tested.

So world opinion, leading by example, sanctions, none of these is sufficient to prevent a country from doing what it believes is in its national self-interest. As this article points out, you just cannot rely upon a treaty or a piece of paper to prevent a country from doing what it believes it has to do to protect its national security. To do so is to fall back on that great American practice of hoping against hope and of putting our reliance in idealism and in treaties when, in fact, the answer is to always be prepared with an adequate military defense. In this case, of course, the defense is the establishment of a missile defense, which we have got to get on with building.

That is a subject for another day, but the bottom line is we can always do what we can do to defend ourselves, such as building a missile defense as opposed to putting our reliance on something over which we have no control, and that is another country's behavior, even in the face of moral condemnation by world opinion and the significant economic sanctions that might be imposed by other countries as well as the United States.

As I said, I will put this article in the Record. I urge my colleagues who are interested in the subject to further explore it as we debate the question of whether or not the Senate should take up the CTBT. As I said, I agree with the distinguished majority leader that these tests demonstrate that putting any reliance on that agreement would be folly and therefore far from suggesting this is the time to take it up, I suggest it is time to forget about it.

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Exhibit 1

From the Washington Post, June 15, 1998


India Cheated


You wouldn't know it from news reports, but most of the military plutonium stocks India dipped into for its recent nuclear tests came from a research project provided years ago by the United States and Canada. India had promised both countries it would not use this plutonium for bombs.

If Washington and Ottawa were now to keep India to its promise, and verify this, India would lose more than half the weapons-grade plutonium for its nuclear bombs and missiles. The United States and Canada should make this an essential condition for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The plutonium in question is the approximately 600 pounds--enough for about 50 bombs--produced in India's CIRUS research reactor since it began operating in 1960. This was an `Atoms for Peace' reactor built by Canada and made operable by an essential 21 tons of heavy water supplied by the United States. In return for this assistance, India promised both suppliers in writing that the reactor would be reserved for `peaceful purposes.'

India used plutonium from this reactor for its 1974 nuclear explosion. When the facts emerged, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi insisted there had been no violation of the peaceful-use commitments because India had set off a `peaceful nuclear explosion.' The Indian scientist then in charge, Raja Ramanna, now has admitted it was a bomb all along. And India now has declared itself a nuclear-weapons state on the basis of its current tests. With the decades-old `peaceful' pretense stripped away, the United States and Canada should make unambiguously clear that India may not use CIRUS plutonium for warheads or related research.

The fact that neither capital has uttered a peep about this matter is symptomatic of Western complicity in the South Asian nuclear crisis and of the present paralysis in dealing with it. There is also the matter of a 1963 agreement covering two U.S.-supplied nuclear power reactors at Tarapur and their fuel. The radioactive used fuel from these reactors is in storage and contains most of India's `reactor-grade' plutonium. India has said it will reprocess the used fuel to extract the plutonium for use as civilian power-reactor fuel. But reactor-grade plutonium also is explosive and once separated, it could be used by India's scientists for rapid deployment in warheads. There is enough Tarapur plutonium for hundreds of them.

Under the 1963 agreement, India must get U.S. approval to reprocess. India disputes this and insists it is free to reprocess the used fuel at any time. The State Department, historically reluctant to tangle with India, rationalized Tarapur as an unnecessary irritant in U.S.-India relations and put this disagreement in the sleeping-dogs category.

In the history of U.S.-India nuclear relations, nothing stands out so much as India's constancy in pursuing nuclear bomb-making and America's nearsightedness about Indian intentions. India fought to weaken the charter of the new International Atomic Energy Agency in the 1950s. It was duplicitous in carrying out Atoms for Peace agreements in the 1960s. It undermined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty with its `peaceful' bomb of 1974.

Despite this history, each new generation of American policymakers thinks that by being a little more accommodating it will gain Indian restraint and acceptance of nuclear controls. The Indians (they are not alone in this) have for a long time played on that characteristically American self-deception that stems from a mix of idealism and commercial greed. It is not surprising that the Indians expect the game to continue.

The angry congressional reaction to discovering America's role in the 1974 test was the 1978 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act. This barred nuclear reactor and fuel exports to countries such as India that refuse to accept full international inspections. But the State Department helped India get around the law by arranging for France and later China to continue the Tarapur fuel supply. Is it any wonder the Indians do not take us seriously?

Like India's 1974 test, the 1998 tests present a defining event in U.S. nonproliferation policy. We have failed to react sharply enough to head off Pakistani tests. But we still can be taken seriously in this region and by other aspiring nuclear states such as Iran. At a minimum we should insist that Indian plutonium covered by `peaceful purposes' agreements be unavailable for warheads, and that Tarapur fuel is not reprocessed to extract plutonium. This is by no means the whole answer, but there is no point in trying to `engage' India is new nuclear limitations if we do not enforce existing agreements.

Mr. KYL. I thank the Chair. I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

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

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Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I may speak as in morning business for 7 minutes.

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