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India a partner in Obama’s N-efforts?

india Updated: Apr 06, 2009 01:26 IST
Amit Baruah

IF US President Barack Obama is serious about reducing nuclear weapons, putting in place a global nuclear test ban and ending the production of fissile material to produce more nuclear weapons, then India will necessarily be in the frontline of such efforts.

Speaking in Prague, Obama said, “…I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons…”

“To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy… we will negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Russians this year.” The US President also said his administration would “immediately and aggressively” pursue the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was rejected by the US Senate in 1999.

India, which has still to sign and ratify the CTBT, having acquired de facto nuclear weapon status in 1998, would have little choice but to sign the Treaty if the Senate ratifies it.

“I don’t see why today’s India should object to signing the Treaty if the US and China ratify it,” Arundhati Ghose, former Indian ambassador and arms control expert, told HT.

Ghose, however, was skeptical about Obama’s efforts to reduce global nuclear weapons. “I think he’s forgotten that the (presidential) campaign is over. He is President of the US, which is in dire straits,” she argued.

Another key area of interest is a new treaty to end the production of fissile material. “If we are serious about stopping the spread of these weapons, then we should put an end to the dedicated production of weapons-grade materials that create them,” Obama said.

“The basic bargain is sound: Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy...,” he underlined.

Radha Kumar, trustee at the Delhi Policy Group, said the world would have to deal with the issue of unequal levels of fissile material in the possession of nuclear weapon states. On CTBT, Kumar said: “The logic is there for India to sign CTBT. But it remains to be seen what government takes power in Delhi.”