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– Frank Klotz
former Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
March 7, 2018
U.S. Shifts Its South Asia Nuclear Policy
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Moving away from the Clinton administration’s nuclear policy toward South Asia, the Bush administration has apparently decided not to try to persuade India and Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) or to give up their nuclear weapons programs.

In a June 18 meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Abdul Sattar, Secretary of State Colin Powell did not raise the issue of CTBT signature, according to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. When asked during a press briefing the next day whether Indian and Pakistani adherence to the CTBT is still a priority for the United States, Boucher responded, “The important thing to the United States is that nuclear developments not be carried any farther, and to that extent, the emphasis that we place on this in this administration has been that there not be any further testing.”

The Bush administration’s approach contrasts with that of the Clinton administration, which actively tried to convince India and Pakistan to go beyond their testing moratoria—declared by both states following their May 1998 nuclear tests—by signing the CTBT. To realize this objective and other nuclear-related goals in the region, the Clinton team conducted years of bilateral meetings with both states.

The Bush administration also seems to have shifted from the Clinton administration’s ultimate goal of persuading the two South Asian states to relinquish their nuclear weapons programs. At a June 9 press conference in Finland, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that the United States and “other interested countries” should encourage India and Pakistan to “learn that is it possible to live with nuclear weapons and not to use them.” Rumsfeld said he hoped that the two countries could “develop a stable situation” like that of the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War. When asked if Rumsfeld’s remarks indicated a policy change, the Pentagon said it was not prepared to comment.