CTBT issue: India 'eager' to secure some concessions

    HT Correspondent
    New Delhi, July 5

    India is eager to secure some concessions before addressing the issue of signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in a meaningful fashion.

    The country according to officials is currently in the process of conveying this view to the "key interlocutors".

    As there has been a national consensus against signing the "flawed" CTBT and the "discriminatory" Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the BJP-led Government apparently wants to know what benefits would accrue to India by signing the CTBT at this juncture.

    Concessions like a waiver from the application of restrictions on transfer of dual-purpose technology are being talked of in official circles here. Such concessions, it is being suggested, are regarded as imperative for paving the way for India possibly signing the CTBT.

    After the multiple nuclear tests at Pokhran last month, India declared its readiness to "adhere to certain provisions" of the CTBT and its willingness to talk to "key interlocutors."

    India, while unilaterally announcing a moratorium on any further nuclear tests, is averse to giving any similar commitment with regard to weaponisation and deployment. The greatest insistence on an Indian declaration on non-weaponisation and non-deployment has been coming from China, it is said.

    Consequent to the Government's diplomatic initiative in recent weeks, official circles aver that there is a better international appreciation of India's security concerns now than what it was a month ago.

    While Mr Brajesh Mishra, the Prime Minister's principal secretary, visited Paris, London and Moscow, Planning Commission deputy chairman Jaswant Singh has been engaged in a dialogue with US deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott.

    After last month's "non-specific" rapport-building encounter in Washington, Mr Jaswant Singh will have a second round of dialogue with Mr Talbott in Frankfurt on July 9. Mr Talbott is slated to visit New Delhi in the latter half of this month for a third round of consultations with Mr Singh.

    BEATING SANCTIONS: Meanwhile, as part of the measures to combat the post-Pokhran II economic fallout, the Government is actively considering a package of measures that will give confidence to foreign investors and stimulate private investment flows.

    Significantly, there is a thinking within the Government to allow a measure of foreign participation in the insurance sector. However, any decision on this will be taken only after the subject is debated in Parliament and outside.

    Official sources, while claiming that the economic fallout from the nuclear tests has been contained if not eliminated, say that measures to attract private foreign investment will be essential nonetheless. The concerns of foreign institutional investors (FIls) will have to be addressed, they say.