We respond to the comments on Pragmatic's post on Condoleeza Rice's testimony. There has been little clarity in New Delhi on the precise contours of the Indo-American nuclear deal. The ongoing US Congressional deliberations led Brahma Chellaney (here and here), Yashwant Sinha and AB Vajpayee to reopen the debate in India. Manmohan Singh had failed to provide sufficient detail to the Lok Sabha. He now needs to answer the concerns raised in light of US Congressional deliberations.
Condoleeza Rice indicated that the Bush administration will push for a South Asia-wide moratorium on the production of fissile material. China rejected the draft Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) and so did the United States. A formal regional cap will compromise Indian nuclear options vis-à-vis China. Critics counter that India’s interest will be affected once Chinese nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles start lurking in Indian waters. Furthermore, the United States Congress plans to insert riders into the deal mandating India not to test nuclear weapons. The United States Senate rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and Washington therefore has no right to enforce it upon India just as it keeps sub-critical tests to further perfect its large arsenal. Some in the US Senate like Sen. Sarbenes propose that India enter into an Additional Protocol with the IAEA before the Indo-American deal is made effective.
A clause on the Congressional resolution states that “A determination under subsection (b) shall not be effective if the President determines that India has detonated a nuclear explosive device after the date of enactment of this Act.” The pro-deal advocates say that India has in any event announced a moratorium on nuclear tests. The opponents stress the need for options should China or Pakistan test a weapon overtly or covertly. In any case, it should be up to India to retain the flexibility whether to respond with further tests or not. This should be a national decision, not an international obligation.