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"I learned so much about arms control and disarmament at ACA! I learned more about arms control here in four months that I had in all three years at my college."
– Alicia Sanders-Zakre,
Intern, Fall 2016
India

India Extending Missile Reach

India is preparing to test a missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers early this year and possibly develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the future, Indian defense officials have indicated in recent weeks.

Peter Crail and Kathleen E. Masterson

India is preparing to test a missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers early this year and possibly develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the future, Indian defense officials have indicated in recent weeks.

India conducted its first successful test of the Agni-4, which has a 3,500-kilometer range, Nov. 15. In a press release that day, New Delhi’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said the test marks a “quantum leap” in India’s indigenous technological capabilities.

Following the test, the defense officials said their country had mastered a series of technologies that would allow it to field longer-range systems. However, there appear to be some differences within India’s defense community over whether New Delhi should use those technologies to cross the ICBM threshold by developing missiles with a range exceeding 5,500 kilometers.

Only five countries—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—have a demonstrated ICBM capability. North Korea has unsuccessfully tested missiles in the ICBM range.

The technologies India claimed it has successfully developed include a re-entry heat shield to protect the warhead from extreme temperatures as it returns into the atmosphere, an improved navigation system, and a composite rocket motor. Indian officials claimed the country’s scientists made these advances even though it has been subject to international technology controls to prevent the spread of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. India is not a member of the 35-nation Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which was formed in 1987 to restrict the spread of missile technology. New Delhi committed in 2008 to adhere to MTCR rules, and Washington announced in November 2010 that it would support India’s membership in the group. (See ACT, December 2010.)

DRDO Director-General Vijay Kumar Saraswat told reporters Nov. 16, “The technologies proven in this mission will give us the necessary confidence to go in for the Agni-5 launch in a couple of months.” Indian defense officials have since said that the Agni-5, which is to have a range of 5,000 kilometers, will undergo its first test in February.

Michael Elleman, a former UN weapons inspector who is now a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in a Dec. 21 e-mail to Arms Control Today that India’s missile development pattern was “highly unusual.”

“They conduct a limited number of tests, declare development completed and then embark on an improvement effort,” he said. “[A]t least a half-dozen flight tests would be needed to validate the performance and reliability of the new missile under a range of operational conditions,” he added.

The two-stage, solid-fuel Agni-4 failed its first test, in December 2010 as the Agni-2 Prime, and was not tested again until Nov. 15.

India fields a number of systems geared toward South Asian rival Pakistan, but it has been increasing the range of its ballistic missiles in order to place a larger number of Chinese targets in range. The Agni-5 would be capable of covering all of China while being deployed deep within Indian territory.

For some current and former Indian defense officials, such a range is all that is necessary for India’s deterrence needs. Former Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, who is regarded as the father of India’s missile program, told the Indian newspaper The Tribune Nov. 18 that a missile that can reach 5,000 kilometers “was enough as the potential enemies were well within this range.”

Saraswat similarly told reporters in February 2010 that India is focused on “threat mitigation” and does intend to develop an ICBM.

However, in comments to reporters last June 11, Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik said, “India should pursue an ICBM program” with missiles having a range of 10,000 kilometers “or even more,” the Hindustan Times reported.

“Breaking out of the regional context is important as the country’s sphere of influence grows,” Naik said.

In a Dec. 13 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Bharat Karnad, one of the authors of India’s 1999 draft nuclear doctrine, said, “The technological momentum driving the Indian missile program is going to take it well beyond the 5,000 km range Agni-5 and into producing genuine ICBM category delivery systems, if only to match China.” He added that although Kalam’s suggestions would be “taken on board, his influence on current missile programs should not be overstated.”

According to Karnad, “[L]onger range, more accurate missiles will be developed [by India] as a technological imperative."

More Collateral Damage from Missile Defense

U.S.-Russian negotiations on strategic arms reductions have demonstrated time and again that U.S. missile defense plans are an obstacle to negotiating lower levels of offensive nuclear forces. Security experts have been providing more reminders lately that in attempting to treat the effects of ballistic missile proliferation, missile defense programs are also having a counterproductive effect on the causes of ballistic missile proliferation. One of the shibboleths characteristic of most missile defense advocates is their faith-based assertion that missile defenses discourage proliferators...

India, Pakistan Resume Security Dialogue

The foreign ministers of nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan met July 27 in New Delhi, resuming their high-level dialogue on security and confidence-building measures for the first time since the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Kristina Popova

The foreign ministers of nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan met July 27 in New Delhi, resuming their high-level dialogue on security and confidence-building measures for the first time since the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. A key focus of the discussions was the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The bilateral relationship “should not be held hostage to the past,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. “It is our desire to make the dialogue process uninterrupted and uninterruptible,” she said.

Khar’s Indian counterpart, S.M. Krishna, expressed confidence that relations between the two countries are “on the right track,” but he cautioned that “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” A joint statement, released after the official talks, characterized the atmosphere as “candid, cordial and constructive” and announced that the two sides had agreed on new arrangements to increase travel and trade across the disputed Line of Control.

The ministers also committed to convening meetings of expert groups in Islamabad in September on confidence-building measures relating to nuclear and conventional weapons, which would constitute the first information-sharing initiative in years on nuclear issues between the two states. The most recent development in this field was a 2005 agreement on prenotification of ballistic missile tests.

The bilateral discussions have taken on a new urgency in the wake of Pakistan’s efforts to expand the production of fissile material for weapons. Islamabad’s current arsenal is estimated to include between 90 and 110 warheads. India is believed to have enough separated fissile material for an arsenal of more than 100 nuclear warheads. In April, Pakistan tested the Hatf-9 short-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile. (See ACT, May 2011.)

International Day Against Nuclear Tests: Translating Words Into Action

By Daryl G. Kimball August 29, 2011 is the second official International Day Against Nuclear Tests . It coincides with the 20th anniversary of the historic events that led to the closure of the former Soviet nuclear test site of Semipalatinsk, where more than 456 explosions contaminated the land and its inhabitants. Citizens of the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan protest nuclear weapons testing at the Soviet nuclear testing site near Semipalatinsk in August, 1989. Photo by Yuri Kuidin. The courageous efforts of the Kazakh people and their allies forced Moscow's communist regime to halt...

NSG Revises Rules on Sensitive Exports

Seven years after they started discussions on the issue and two and a half years after they formulated a “clean text,” the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) last week agreed on revised guidelines for exports relating to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

An early version of this story appeared here.

Daniel Horner

Seven years after they started discussions on the issue and two and a half years after they formulated a “clean text,” the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreed in June on revised guidelines for exports relating to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

At issue were paragraphs 6 and 7 of the NSG guidelines. The old version of paragraph 6 said that suppliers should “exercise restraint” in exports of sensitive technology. The new paragraph 6 essentially retains that language, but specifies a list of criteria to be considered. The new paragraph 7, which deals with “[s]pecial arrangements for export of enrichment facilities, equipment and technology,” adds details on restrictions on sharing such technology.

A June 24 NSG press release issued at the end of the group’s annual plenary meeting in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, said only that the group had “agreed to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies.” The NSG did not release the text of the new guidelines, but a copy was obtained by Arms Control Today.

The NSG is not a formal organization, and its guidelines are not legally binding.

The main change from the previous guidelines is the addition of the list, known as “objective criteria.” Among other requirements, potential recipients of sensitive technology must be parties to and “in full compliance” with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and they must be adhering to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards requirements.

Focus on Additional Protocol

In a separate section, the text says that suppliers should authorize enrichment and reprocessing exports only if the recipient has brought into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol or, “pending this, [the recipient] is implementing appropriate safeguards agreements in cooperation with the IAEA, including a regional accounting and control arrangement for nuclear materials, as approved by the IAEA Board of Governors.” In a June 27 interview, a U.S. official said one significant aspect of the new guidelines is the reference to an additional protocol as a condition of supply.

The language on “a regional accounting and control arrangement” is a clear reference to the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC). Argentina and Brazil have not signed an additional protocol, which would give IAEA inspectors greater latitude to carry out their inspections in those countries, including the right to inspect any undeclared facilities. The NSG language would make Argentina and Brazil eligible to receive sensitive exports without having an additional protocol in force.

Since the appearance of the November 2008 “clean” draft text, critics have said the group’s concession on this point is a major flaw in the NSG’s approach because the ABACC arrangements do not provide the level of assurance about the countries’ nuclear programs that an additional protocol would.

In a June 30 interview, a Brazilian official said the Quadripartite Agreement among Argentina, Brazil, ABACC, and the IAEA furnishes a “more than sufficient guarantee” of the peaceful nature of the two countries’ nuclear programs. It “add[s] value” to INFCIRC/153, the standard safeguards agreement that the IAEA signs with NPT non-nuclear-weapon states, in part because it provides for the application of safeguards by ABACC as well as the IAEA, he said.

Compared to comprehensive safeguards agreements, it furnishes “an amount of information and mutual confidence that is superior,” he said. Additional protocols are not a legal requirement under the NPT or the IAEA, and that point has been recognized in all relevant forums, including the NSG, he said.

Brazil’s 2008 National Defense Strategy was “very clear” that the country would not adhere to new safeguards commitments until the nuclear-weapon states made significant progress toward fulfilling their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT, he said.

Asked if the “pending this” language in the new guidelines suggested that the Quadripartite Agreement eventually would be supplemented by an additional protocol, the official said, “We do not see an obligation deriving from this [language].” Citing the NPT and IAEA resolutions, he said it is the “sovereign decision of any country” to conclude an additional protocol.

The U.S. official said the language “was a way of saying that the NSG would continue to review the situation with respect to the status of adherence to the additional protocol.”

‘General’ Subjective Criteria

The proposed November 2008 version of the NSG guidelines also included so-called subjective criteria: “[w]hether the recipient has a credible and coherent rationale for pursuing enrichment and reprocessing capability in support of civil nuclear power generation programmes,” “[w]hether the transfer would have a negative impact on the stability and security of the recipient state,” and “[g]eneral conditions of stability and security.”

The new text dispenses with that list. Instead, it invokes other sections of the guidelines that give suppliers broad authority to ensure that their exports do not contribute to proliferation. It also adds language saying that suppliers should “tak[e] into account at their national discretion, any relevant factors as may be applicable.”

The U.S. official said the section retains the concept of subjective criteria, but “has been written in a much more general manner.”

The guidelines also contain new language at the beginning of paragraph 7, saying in part, “All States that meet the criteria in paragraph 6 above are eligible for transfers of enrichment facilities, equipment and technology.”

According to the U.S. official, being “eligible” to receive enrichment and reprocessing exports does not equate to a “right” to receive them. A key point of the new guidelines is that “the suppliers as a group were concerned with more than a specific list,” he said.

However, in additional new language at the beginning of paragraph 7, the guidelines say that “[s]uppliers recognize that the application of the Special Arrangements [on enrichment-related exports] below must be consistent with NPT principles, in particular Article IV. Any application by the suppliers of the following Special Arrangements may not abrogate the rights of States meeting the criteria in paragraph 6.”

Article IV of the NPT establishes an “inalienable right” of treaty parties to pursue peaceful nuclear programs.

The section on enrichment-related transfers requires that they be under so-called black box conditions that seek to prevent the technology from being replicated. There is a limited exception to allow cooperation on development of potential new enrichment technologies, but the restrictions would apply once the technology was commercialized.

As the U.S. official noted, black-box requirements are now a global industry standard and are being applied to two enrichment plants in the United States. He said “enshrin[ing]” industry practice in the NSG guidelines is “a very useful thing to do.”

Effect on India

In September 2008, the NSG made an exception for India from the group’s general requirement for so-called full-scope safeguards, the requirement that recipients of exports open all their nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection. In the run-up to the announcement on the revised guidelines on enrichment and reprocessing, a key question was whether India would be exempted from the new restrictions as well.

Even before the NSG or the United States announced the agreement on the new guidelines, the U.S. Department of State’s press office issued a statement saying that the Obama administration “fully supports” the “clean” NSG exception for India and “speedy implementation” of the U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which Congress approved in 2008. “Nothing about the new Enrichment and Reprocessing (ENR) transfer restrictions agreed to by NSG members should be construed as detracting from the unique impact and importance of the U.S.-India agreement or our commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation,” the statement said.

Indian officials and observers often use the term “clean waiver” to suggest that the 2008 NSG decision lifted all the restrictions that previously had been in place on nuclear exports to India. However, the June 23 State Department press release said, “Efforts in the NSG to strengthen controls on the transfers of ENR are consistent with long-standing U.S. policy that pre-dates the Civil Nuclear Agreement and have been reaffirmed on an annual basis by the [Group of Eight industrialized countries] for years.”

The U.S. official said that NSG members had begun discussing a list of criteria for enrichment- and reprocessing-related exports in 2004 and, by the end of the year, had agreed that NPT membership should be a criterion. The plans for U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation were announced in July 2005. (See ACT, September 2005.)

The official also noted that the text of the 2008 NSG decision exempts India only from the section of the NSG guidelines dealing with the requirement for full-scope safeguards and specifically says that “transfers of sensitive exports remain subject to paragraphs 6 and 7.”

In a June 30 interview, a European diplomat agreed that, under the guidelines, India could not receive enrichment and reprocessing technology. India’s Ministry of External Affairs and its embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

Indian Membership

According to the NSG press statement, the members also “continued to consider all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.” Last November, President Barack Obama announced his support for Indian membership in the NSG and three other export control regimes. (See ACT, December 2010.)

India would be the first member of the NSG that is not a party to the NPT. A key criterion for membership in the group is that the country is a party to and complying with the NPT or a nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaty.

A confidential May 23 U.S.-drafted “Food for Thought” paper circulated to NSG members offers two options for bringing India into the group. One would be to revise the admission criteria “in a manner that would accurately describe India’s situation.” The other would be to “recognize” that the criteria, known as “Factors to Be Considered,” are not “mandatory criteria” and that a candidate for membership does not necessarily have to meet all of them.

At the Noordwijk meeting, the United States “did not ask anybody to take a decision,” the U.S. official said. There was “a good, solid discussion” with expressions of “views on both sides,” he said. According to the official, some delegates were “very concerned about the NPT issue.”

The United States invited additional comments, with a deadline of Sept. 1, he said. That would allow time to prepare for follow-up discussions on the sidelines of the IAEA general conference later that month and at the meeting of the NSG’s consultative group in October or November, he said.

 

New Nuclear Suppliers Rules a Net Plus

After years of discussion, the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has agreed on a clearer, tougher set of guidelines designed to prevent the spread of uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing equipment and technology. The action should help guard against the further proliferation of sensitive equipment and technology that can be used to make fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Daryl G. Kimball

After years of discussion, the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has agreed on a clearer, tougher set of guidelines designed to prevent the spread of uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing equipment and technology. The action should help guard against the further proliferation of sensitive equipment and technology that can be used to make fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Although country neutral, the new NSG rules fix one of the holes created by the NSG’s ill-conceived 2008 decision to exempt India from most NSG trading restrictions and should ensure that sensitive enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies will not be transferred to India and used in its unsafeguarded military nuclear program.

The new guidelines, which were approved at the NSG's June 23-24 meeting in the Netherlands, bar enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology exports to states that have not signed or are not in compliance with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), do not allow comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, and do not allow more extensive monitoring under the terms of an additional protocol, among other criteria.

Only three states have not signed the NPT: India, Israel, and Pakistan. Iran, North Korea, and Syria are currently in noncompliance with their IAEA safeguards obligations. Dozens of states have not yet approved an additional protocol, including Algeria, Egypt, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, whose ambassador to Washington recently threatened that his country would build nuclear weapons if Iran does.

The NSG was formed in 1975 in response to India’s misuse of civilian nuclear assistance for its nuclear weapons program. Its guidelines are voluntary and designed to reinforce legal prohibitions in the NPT and elsewhere on the use of peaceful nuclear technology for military purposes.

The NSG’s policy is a commonsense precaution: Enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology cannot be safeguarded against misuse for military purposes, and all NSG states are under a legal obligation not to assist other countries, directly or indirectly, in the production of nuclear weapons. Unlike the five original nuclear-armed states, India continues to produce nuclear bomb material and refuses to transform its nuclear test moratorium into a legally binding pledge by signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Not surprisingly, Indian politicians are complaining that the NSG’s latest decision detracts from the so-called clean waiver from NSG rules that the Bush administration rammed through the group in 2008.

U.S. officials have responded like candidates eager not to offend campaign contributors. U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer insisted June 30 that “the White House and the Obama administration strongly and vehemently support the clean waiver for India.”

In reality, the 2008 exemption for India was not clean and unconditional. The United States and other nuclear suppliers did not then and do not now intend to provide India with enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology, but rather electricity production reactors and fuel. India remains in a special category, outside the nonproliferation mainstream.

The 2008 NSG decision specifically did not apply to enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology transfers. The decision also notes that the exemption will be reconsidered and probably revoked if India conducts another nuclear explosive test or if it breaks any of its other nonproliferation pledges. In addition, the 2008 U.S. legislation that allows reactor and fuel sales to India includes a similar condition, which was strongly supported by then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), that makes it clear that the United States has the right to terminate all nuclear trade with India if New Delhi’s leaders resume nuclear explosive testing.

If the NSG allows India to become a member, as the Obama administration is now proposing, the group’s ability to hold India accountable would be severely undermined, compounding the damage created by the India-specific exemption. Furthermore, given that India already has made a commitment to meet NSG export guidelines, it is not clear whether or how Indian membership would strengthen the NSG.

The Indian nuclear deal has prompted Israel and Pakistan to lobby for similar exemptions, so far unsuccessfully. Pakistan has accelerated its efforts to increase its capacity to produce plutonium for weapons and has blocked negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty. China has announced it will sell Pakistan two additional nuclear power plants in violation of NSG rules.

Before considering membership options for India, NSG members should actively encourage India to curtail the production of fissile material, sign the CTBT, and freeze further development of long-range ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons.

The 2008 India exemption was a strategic blunder that has complicated relations with India and damaged the nonproliferation effort. The NSG’s new policy on sensitive enrichment and reprocessing items is an important adjustment, but the effort to curtail proliferation and slow down nuclear weapons competition in Asia requires more principled and effective leadership from Washington, New Delhi, and other capitals.

NSG Revises Rules on Sensitive Exports

Description: 

Seven years after they started discussions on the issue and two and a half years after they formulated a “clean text,” the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) last week agreed on revised guidelines for exports relating to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

Body: 

The following is an early version of a story that appears in the July/August issue of Arms Control Today.

Originally posted June 27, 2011

Updated  July 5, 2011

Seven years after they started discussions on the issue and two and a half years after they formulated a “clean text,” the members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) agreed in June on revised guidelines for exports relating to uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

At issue were paragraphs 6 and 7 of the NSG guidelines. The old version of paragraph 6 said that suppliers should “exercise restraint” in exports of sensitive technology. The new paragraph 6 essentially retains that language, but specifies a list of criteria to be considered. The new paragraph 7, which deals with “[s]pecial arrangements for export of enrichment facilities, equipment and technology,” adds details on restrictions on sharing such technology.

A June 24 NSG press release issued at the end of the group’s annual plenary meeting in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, said only that the group had “agreed to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies.” The NSG did not release the text of the new guidelines, but a copy was obtained by Arms Control Today.

The NSG is not a formal organization, and its guidelines are not legally binding.

The main change from the previous guidelines is the addition of the list, known as “objective criteria.” Among other requirements, potential recipients of sensitive technology must be parties to and “in full compliance” with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and they must be adhering to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards requirements.

Focus on Additional Protocol

In a separate section, the text says that suppliers should authorize enrichment and reprocessing exports only if the recipient has brought into force a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol or, “pending this, [the recipient] is implementing appropriate safeguards agreements in cooperation with the IAEA, including a regional accounting and control arrangement for nuclear materials, as approved by the IAEA Board of Governors.” In a June 27 interview, a U.S. official said one significant aspect of the new guidelines is the reference to an additional protocol as a condition of supply.

The language on “a regional accounting and control arrangement” is a clear reference to the Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC). Argentina and Brazil have not signed an additional protocol, which would give IAEA inspectors greater latitude to carry out their inspections in those countries, including the right to inspect any undeclared facilities. The NSG language would make Argentina and Brazil eligible to receive sensitive exports without having an additional protocol in force.

Since the appearance of the November 2008 “clean” draft text, critics have said the group’s concession on this point is a major flaw in the NSG’s approach because the ABACC arrangements do not provide the level of assurance about the countries’ nuclear programs that an additional protocol would.

In a June 30 interview, a Brazilian official said the Quadripartite Agreement among Argentina, Brazil, ABACC, and the IAEA furnishes a “more than sufficient guarantee” of the peaceful nature of the two countries’ nuclear programs. It “add[s] value” to INFCIRC/153, the standard safeguards agreement that the IAEA signs with NPT non-nuclear-weapon states, in part because it provides for the application of safeguards by ABACC as well as the IAEA, he said.

Compared to comprehensive safeguards agreements, it furnishes “an amount of information and mutual confidence that is superior,” he said. Additional protocols are not a legal requirement under the NPT or the IAEA, and that point has been recognized in all relevant forums, including the NSG, he said.

Brazil’s 2008 National Defense Strategy was “very clear” that the country would not adhere to new safeguards commitments until the nuclear-weapon states made significant progress toward fulfilling their disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT, he said.

Asked if the “pending this” language in the new guidelines suggested that the Quadripartite Agreement eventually would be supplemented by an additional protocol, the official said, “We do not see an obligation deriving from this [language].” Citing the NPT and IAEA resolutions, he said it is the “sovereign decision of any country” to conclude an additional protocol.

The U.S. official said the language “was a way of saying that the NSG would continue to review the situation with respect to the status of adherence to the additional protocol.”

‘General’ Subjective Criteria

The proposed November 2008 version of the NSG guidelines also included so-called subjective criteria: “[w]hether the recipient has a credible and coherent rationale for pursuing enrichment and reprocessing capability in support of civil nuclear power generation programmes,” “[w]hether the transfer would have a negative impact on the stability and security of the recipient state,” and “[g]eneral conditions of stability and security.”

The new text dispenses with that list. Instead, it invokes other sections of the guidelines that give suppliers broad authority to ensure that their exports do not contribute to proliferation. It also adds language saying that suppliers should “tak[e] into account at their national discretion, any relevant factors as may be applicable.”

The U.S. official said the section retains the concept of subjective criteria, but “has been written in a much more general manner.”

The guidelines also contain new language at the beginning of paragraph 7, saying in part, “All States that meet the criteria in paragraph 6 above are eligible for transfers of enrichment facilities, equipment and technology.”

According to the U.S. official, being “eligible” to receive enrichment and reprocessing exports does not equate to a “right” to receive them. A key point of the new guidelines is that “the suppliers as a group were concerned with more than a specific list,” he said.

However, in additional new language at the beginning of paragraph 7, the guidelines say that “[s]uppliers recognize that the application of the Special Arrangements [on enrichment-related exports] below must be consistent with NPT principles, in particular Article IV. Any application by the suppliers of the following Special Arrangements may not abrogate the rights of States meeting the criteria in paragraph 6.”

Article IV of the NPT establishes an “inalienable right” of treaty parties to pursue peaceful nuclear programs.

The section on enrichment-related transfers requires that they be under so-called black box conditions that seek to prevent the technology from being replicated. There is a limited exception to allow cooperation on development of potential new enrichment technologies, but the restrictions would apply once the technology was commercialized.

As the U.S. official noted, black-box requirements are now a global industry standard and are being applied to two enrichment plants in the United States. He said “enshrin[ing]” industry practice in the NSG guidelines is “a very useful thing to do.”

Effect on India

In September 2008, the NSG made an exception for India from the group’s general requirement for so-called full-scope safeguards, the requirement that recipients of exports open all their nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection. In the run-up to the announcement on the revised guidelines on enrichment and reprocessing, a key question was whether India would be exempted from the new restrictions as well.

Even before the NSG or the United States announced the agreement on the new guidelines, the U.S. Department of State’s press office issued a statement saying that the Obama administration “fully supports” the “clean” NSG exception for India and “speedy implementation” of the U.S.-Indian civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which Congress approved in 2008. “Nothing about the new Enrichment and Reprocessing (ENR) transfer restrictions agreed to by NSG members should be construed as detracting from the unique impact and importance of the U.S.-India agreement or our commitment to full civil nuclear cooperation,” the statement said.

Indian officials and observers often use the term “clean waiver” to suggest that the 2008 NSG decision lifted all the restrictions that previously had been in place on nuclear exports to India. However, the June 23 State Department press release said, “Efforts in the NSG to strengthen controls on the transfers of ENR are consistent with long-standing U.S. policy that pre-dates the Civil Nuclear Agreement and have been reaffirmed on an annual basis by the [Group of Eight industrialized countries] for years.”

The U.S. official said that NSG members had begun discussing a list of criteria for enrichment- and reprocessing-related exports in 2004 and, by the end of the year, had agreed that NPT membership should be a criterion. The plans for U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation were announced in July 2005. (See ACT, September 2005.)

The official also noted that the text of the 2008 NSG decision exempts India only from the section of the NSG guidelines dealing with the requirement for full-scope safeguards and specifically says that “transfers of sensitive exports remain subject to paragraphs 6 and 7.”

In a June 30 interview, a European diplomat agreed that, under the guidelines, India could not receive enrichment and reprocessing technology. India’s Ministry of External Affairs and its embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

Indian Membership

According to the NSG press statement, the members also “continued to consider all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.” Last November, President Barack Obama announced his support for Indian membership in the NSG and three other export control regimes. (See ACT, December 2010.)

India would be the first member of the NSG that is not a party to the NPT. A key criterion for membership in the group is that the country is a party to and complying with the NPT or a nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaty.

A confidential May 23 U.S.-drafted “Food for Thought” paper circulated to NSG members offers two options for bringing India into the group. One would be to revise the admission criteria “in a manner that would accurately describe India’s situation.” The other would be to “recognize” that the criteria, known as “Factors to Be Considered,” are not “mandatory criteria” and that a candidate for membership does not necessarily have to meet all of them.

At the Noordwijk meeting, the United States “did not ask anybody to take a decision,” the U.S. official said. There was “a good, solid discussion” with expressions of “views on both sides,” he said. According to the official, some delegates were “very concerned about the NPT issue.”

The United States invited additional comments, with a deadline of Sept. 1, he said. That would allow time to prepare for follow-up discussions on the sidelines of the IAEA general conference later that month and at the meeting of the NSG’s consultative group in October or November, he said. —DANIEL HORNER

 

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

Indian Membership in the NSG? A Bad Idea Whose Time Has Not Come

By Daryl G. Kimball Global efforts to prevent the spread of the world's most deadly weapons depend on universal compliance with rules that constrain the sale of nuclear technology. Too often, however, powerful states try to make exceptions from these rules, or simply ignore them, in order to help powerful commercial nuclear interests score profits or to curry favor with key allies, or both. The latest example is the Obama administration's proposal to create a process for India to join the 46-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)–the nuclear technology control organization established in 1975...

Banking on an Outsider: Implications for Escalation Control in South Asia

Since acquiring nuclear weapons, India and Pakistan have relied on the United States to de-escalate crises. This approach is inherently risky and must be changed.

Moeed Yusuf

The potential for confrontation between India and Pakistan continues to worry many around the world. The two nuclear powers are highly crisis prone; they have been embroiled in at least three major crises since they declared their nuclear weapons capabilities to the world in 1998. Over the past decade, terrorism on Indian soil has become the number one trigger for Indian-Pakistani crises. The threat still remains clear and present. Prior crises were initiated due to provocative posturing (1987) and even confusion and misperception (1990). These also remain plausible drivers of the next crisis.[1]

Each Indian-Pakistani crisis implies increased tensions, tit-for-tat brinkmanship, and an inherent risk of escalation. This bodes ill for peace in the region because the most likely scenario leading to a nuclear war is an Indian-Pakistani military escalation caused by a crisis-triggering event. Crisis behavior in the past has tended to bring out the most dangerous elements of the Indian-Pakistani nuclear equation. Concerns emanate from the lack of transparency in nuclear postures and strategies, ambiguous red lines, lack of early-warning capabilities, concerns about the safety and security of the arsenals, structural realities such as geographical proximity, and, not least, a tendency to look to a third party—the United States—to avoid uncontrolled escalation.

This last aspect, namely the expected role of the third party as the principal agent for de-escalation in a nuclear environment, is destabilizing in that it attaches expectations that this outsider may be unable to fulfill. Moreover, it leads the principal parties to avoid institutionalizing bilateral mechanisms for escalation control. An absence of these mechanisms, in turn, makes the third party, in this case the United States, eager to mediate, not only because of its fears of uncontrolled escalation but also because of its important interests in the region. During the Kargil conflict of 1999 and the 2001-2002 military standoff—the two most serious crises since the 1998 nuclear tests—the third-party role was prominent. A significant proportion of the signaling also was routed through third parties. This was most obvious in the 2001-2002 crisis when both sides actively looked to the United States to weigh in on their side and force the other to pull back. In essence, escalation control was “contracted out.”

This model of escalation control is especially dangerous in the South Asian context, not only because future crises are believed to be highly likely but also because there is a strong belief among decision-makers on both sides that U.S. diplomatic intervention will be able to keep a lid on escalation. Even more worrisome, they wish for the United States to intervene in support of their position; they want cessation of hostilities, but on their terms. Such a belief has implications, both for escalation control in South Asia and for U.S. policy and actions during future crises. Will the United States be in a position to play the role each side envisages? Even more fundamentally, is its intervention likely to be stabilizing, or will it end up inducing further instability into the equation?

Behavior in Past Crises

The only two nuclear crises since the end of the Cold War that saw active mobilization of military forces on both sides were between India and Pakistan. In 1999, just a year after Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, Pakistan-backed operatives infiltrated Indian Kashmir and captured strategic heights at Kargil. Fears of escalation to the nuclear level were raised in many global capitals almost instantly. Even though the scope of this confrontation and the use of nuclear signals were limited,[2] two aspects of the crisis did have implications for future behavior.

The first was the third party’s role: rather than looking to resolve the conflict bilaterally, Pakistan sought external help. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached out to China directly, and subsequently to U.S. President Bill Clinton, to seek assistance in stopping the fighting and pushing India to resolve the dispute over Kashmir.

Second, even if this was not one of Pakistan’s original objectives, the Kargil episode ended up indicating the possibility of limited conflict below the nuclear threshold. Pakistan, having the conventionally weaker military, could now potentially use space at the lower end of the conflict spectrum with relative impunity. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent could prevent all-out war—this amounted to a neutralization of India’s conventional superiority—while emboldening the use of limited war, either through regular troops or asymmetric means.[3] Glenn Snyder’s “stability-instability paradox” was in play, to Pakistan’s advantage.[4]

The 2001-2002 crisis, set off as it was by an attack on the Indian parliament by the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad, was more obviously and explicitly a “nuclear crisis.” Nuclear signaling took place openly; both sides made a number of statements as well as veiled and blunt nuclear threats aimed at establishing the credibility of their resolve not to back down. Perhaps the most alarming aspect was that not one of these signals was conveyed through direct contact.[5] All verbal signals were transmitted through open sources or third parties. A significant proportion was addressed directly to the international community and the United States. Indeed, it was obvious that both sides were actively goading the United States to intervene diplomatically to back their respective cases.[6]

In the 2001-2002 crisis, India had mobilized its forces and threatened an all-out attack against Pakistan as part of a “compellence” strategy. New Delhi demanded that Pakistan sincerely tackle militant proxies, which it traditionally had used against India in a bid to raise New Delhi’s costs in Kashmir. By taking this position, India was attempting to reverse the perception generated during the Kargil episode that Pakistan’s nuclear capability had taken away India’s space to “punish” Pakistan through a conventional response.[7] In the final outcome, Islamabad walked away more satisfied because India, despite continuously threatening war, could not launch an attack. Furthermore, although the Pakistani state did commit to tackling anti-India militancy—this was India’s key objective—and undertook certain steps, it did not achieve irreversible progress in pacifying the militant groups targeting India.

The most recent crisis was triggered in November 2008 when Lashkar-e-Taiba, a prominent Pakistan-based militant group, attacked the city of Mumbai, killing 164 people. By the time that attack occurred, India already had assumed the role of the principal U.S. ally in South Asia. Thus, even though there was a greater effort from India and Pakistan to reach out bilaterally this time around, New Delhi tried to use its newfound stature in global politics to call on the international community to judge Pakistan; parallels were drawn between the Mumbai and September 11 attacks. Moreover, although India refrained from an immediate military mobilization, it did put its air force on high alert. In fact, two weeks after the attack, Indian air force jets entered Pakistani airspace, forcing Pakistani interceptors to scramble.

For Pakistan, the situation was much like it was during the 2001-2002 standoff: Islamabad was embarrassed, squarely on the back foot, and seeking to escape unharmed. It managed to do so by successfully distancing the state from the terrorist attack and promising to investigate the episode and take the perpetrators to task.[8] Indeed, for the second crisis in a row, the outcome favored Pakistan. India did not respond militarily, and the international community asked for little more than serious investigations. New Delhi was left seething with discontent.

The U.S. Role

In all three crises, the foremost U.S. objective was to reduce tensions before escalation dynamics set in. It did so by playing two roles: as a balancer and as a face-saving channel.

During the Kargil conflict, the United States had few pressing interests in South Asia. Pakistan, on the other hand, was seen universally as the aggressor whose reckless behavior had caused the crisis in the first place. Washington satisfied its objective of achieving de-escalation by urging Pakistan to withdraw while pleading with India not to undertake an open-ended military response that could lead to expansion of the conflict. India responded favorably while Sharif, in the face of multiple tactical losses on the battlefront, traveled to Washington to seek an end to the conflict. Clinton, while demanding Pakistan’s unequivocal withdrawal, did not agree to an immediate diplomatic intervention on the Kashmir issue as the Pakistani delegation had hoped.[9] By doing so, he came out in de facto support of the Indian position. Yet, by agreeing to mediate and impress on India the need to cease hostilities once Pakistan announced the withdrawal, he provided the Pakistani side with a face-saver. Pakistan could claim, as it did, that it had achieved a negotiated end to the conflict and internationalized the Kashmir issue. For India, the Kargil episode proved to be a fresh beginning with the United States. Years of sour relations were turned around shortly after the confrontation.

The 2001-2002 episode saw a much more elaborate U.S. role. By that time, both Pakistan and India had become critical to U.S. interests for different reasons. In fact, signaling from both sides during the crisis reflected a recognition of their importance for Washington. Interestingly enough, their behavior suggested that each believed it was more important and could sway the United States to its side. Nonetheless, the aim of ensuring a swift end to tensions meant that the United States could not side with either party overtly. Doing so could have emboldened the particular actor toward which Washington was leaning, thus raising the possibility of provocation. Commendably, the United States managed to keep its eyes on its ultimate objective and retain impartiality; its role was a textbook example of a “preponderant pivot” working to mitigate conflict.[10] It issued statements in India’s favor at times and in Pakistan’s at others. It requested that India back off and pressured Pakistan to deal with militants seriously as a quid pro quo. It also selectively shared intelligence, which helped to avoid misunderstandings at crucial moments.[11]

For India, the outcome was not exactly what it had hoped. However, as Pakistan had managed to do during the Kargil conflict, New Delhi did use the United States as a face-saver. By getting the United States to condemn militancy publicly and call on Pakistan, harshly on occasion, to curb militancy emanating from its territory, India could argue that it had achieved its aim of getting Pakistan to agree to change its policy. Yet, realizing that the outcome actually had gone in Pakistan’s favor—India’s effort at compellence had essentially failed—the United States offered India long-term benefits. Indeed, the years following the standoff saw significant U.S. concessions to India, which helped persuade New Delhi that it could repose its trust in Washington’s intentions. Between 2003 and 2008, military-to-military contacts were revived, and India became the recipient of multiple defense deals, a unique civil nuclear deal, and a much enhanced economic relationship with the United States.

The Mumbai crisis saw a repeat performance by Washington in terms of working to alleviate tensions, although in circumstances in which the Indian-U.S. warmth might have raised false expectations in New Delhi. The United States once again injected itself immediately. It came in with a message of calm, conducting diplomacy to ensure that neither side exercised the option to use force. Public statements from the very beginning showed extreme sympathy to India, but also called for restraint on its part.[12] At the same time, perhaps realizing that efforts in the Indian media at the time to link the Pakistani “state” to the attack might be used to legitimize an attack, Washington issued official statements affirming that there was no evidence that the Pakistani state was complicit in the attacks.[13] The face-saver for India once again was the U.S. condemnation of the attack and demands that Pakistan seriously investigate the matter in collaboration with Indian authorities. Unlike the 2001-2002 crisis, however, the post-Mumbai period did not see any fresh overtures from Washington to reward India for its restrained behavior. Promises of long-term counterterrorism support are frequently rehearsed, but even there, Pakistan’s vital role in Afghanistan has not allowed Washington to satisfy New Delhi entirely.

Will the Next Crisis Be the Same?

U.S. involvement in the nuclear crises discussed above proved instrumental in preventing uncontrolled escalation, but it did not satisfy both sides. In the Kargil conflict, India was the more satisfied party. In the next two crises, however, India left the scene discontented. In fact, the reasons for Indian disgruntlement with the United States’ role are structural in nature and would likely exist in future crises as well unless the original contracted-out arrangement is altered. Indeed, the Mumbai episode may well prove to be a watershed in terms of the approach India takes to the next crisis.

To begin with, India has suffered tremendous “reputational” costs in the past two crises.[14] The general perception is that Pakistani nuclear weapons have neutralized India’s conventional superiority and made it impotent in the face of terrorist attacks. This reputational concern strikes at the heart of the credibility of the Indian nuclear deterrent. If India cannot deter violence at the lower end of the spectrum and, at the same time, cannot follow up on its threats of military response, the effectiveness of its deterrent becomes questionable. At the same time, India’s inability to launch an attack strengthens the credibility of the Pakistani deterrent, which is meant to do exactly that: neutralize India’s ability to utilize its superior conventional capability. Additionally, New Delhi’s experience during the 2001-2002 standoff and the Mumbai crisis established that a compellence strategy aimed at fundamentally altering the landscape of anti-India militants in Pakistan does not deliver, not least because the Pakistani state is no longer in a position to control all activities of these groups.

India also has walked away from the last two crises with lessons on U.S. involvement in South Asian crises. The U.S. role in encouraging restraint after India is struck by a terrorist attack has given Pakistan an upper hand in the crises. Although New Delhi could not have completely overlooked Pakistan’s importance, Indian opinion makers did expect greater tangible support from the United States, especially during the Mumbai crisis. That was not forthcoming. The lesson, as drawn in New Delhi, was that no amount of warmth with Washington would prompt it to “gang up” against Pakistan during a crisis. Washington’s postcrisis utility is also limited, especially because Pakistan is likely to remain important to the United States for its own reasons for the foreseeable future.

All this has led to a shift in the sentiment in New Delhi. As a result of this shift, Indian restraint no longer can be taken for granted. In fact, many believe that an Indian retaliation to the next terrorist attack is all but inevitable.[15] This could take the form of the swift, surgical air strikes that seemed to have been contemplated during the Mumbai crisis. India even could put its Pakistan-specific “Cold Start” doctrine, which aims to conduct limited operations on Pakistani territory, to the test.[16] In terms of third-party presence, this implies an alteration in the contracted-out arrangement. Rather than being amenable to U.S. intervention to support its stance at the very onset of a crisis, New Delhi would aim to undertake limited use of force before Washington could step in. Only when it had completed its initial offensive would it look toward Washington to pacify Pakistan. This would make the U.S. task of ensuring escalation control much more challenging.

Let us play the scenario out. Assume that the next crisis is triggered by another Mumbai-type attack on Indian soil. The attack actually may have come from a Pakistan-based group, or Indian decision-makers may simply rush to conclude so either on the basis of past occurrences or due to faulty intelligence. Let us assume that, in the wake of the attack, India has decided to conduct a limited strike against militant targets in Pakistan. De-escalation now would require the United States to shift its focus to persuading Pakistan to show restraint. There have been suggestions that if the United States could not prevent India from striking, it might be able to convince it to strike relatively low-profile targets in Pakistan such that the strikes would not trigger a Pakistani response.[17] Although theoretically attractive from a deterrence point of view—it would satisfy India’s reputational concerns without causing uncontrolled escalation—such a view ignores the psyche of Pakistan’s military planners as well as the importance of public sentiment in today’s Pakistan. The author’s conversations with members of Pakistan’s strategic enclave suggest conclusively that even a minor Indian strike would elicit a response in kind. The Pakistani intelligence chief recently acknowledged during a hearing before the Pakistani parliament that the military already had identified and even rehearsed strikes that Islamabad could make on targets in India in response to any Indian surgical strikes.[18] The need to keep denying India the confidence that it could aggress militarily at any level remains the cornerstone of Pakistan’s deterrence calculus.

As soon as Pakistan reacts to an Indian strike, the deterrence equation will be back to square one from India’s perspective. The Indian effort to prove that its military option has not been foreclosed by the Pakistani nuclear deterrent and that it could compel Pakistan to act against anti-India militants present on its soil would stand neutralized. In fact, the credibility of the deterrent would have taken a greater hit than in the previous crises as Pakistan would have demonstrated that it had the upper hand even in a “one-shot” confrontation. As a result, Indian threats of a surgical strike in the next crisis ring hollow unless decision-makers in New Delhi are willing to escalate the crisis further. Indeed, India may well feel the need to set the record straight by exercising direct brinkmanship, upping the ante and threatening to escalate further.

From here on, the South Asian powers would be in uncharted territory. Neither India nor Pakistan would want uncontrolled escalation, but they would face the classic brinkmanship challenge: on whose terms will the conflict end? For India, an extra shot would have to be fired, so to speak, for it to walk away satisfied. Pakistan, on the other hand, would want to exit immediately after it has responded to India’s initial aggression.

The United States would find itself in a serious dilemma. By the time an Indian response and Pakistani counteraction has taken place, the U.S. interlocutors may have lost control over the pace of escalation. The U.S. message of restraint against the temptation to escalate further is much less likely to be heeded by India at this point. This is especially true because, as in the Mumbai crisis, it is difficult to imagine the United States being able to offer an attractive enough reward to India to back off. The United States also would not be able to punish Pakistan tangibly and instantly to India’s satisfaction, not least because doing so would undermine the Pakistani-U.S. relationship, fuel further anti-American sentiment in the country, destabilize it to an even greater extent internally, and strengthen the ultraright nationalists. On the other hand, although global opinion is on India’s side already, the option of the United States supporting India outright would be extremely risky. It would embolden India to consider overwhelming punishment, and in Pakistan, it would be seen as a “gang up”; the present sentiment in Pakistan indicates that such a move would quickly be viewed as an Indian-U.S. effort to disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons.[19] It likely would cause panic and might lead Pakistan to act even more provocatively to raise the stakes and prompt the United States to seek immediate de-escalation.[20]

In any case, if the crisis fails to wind down after each side has fired one shot, escalation dynamics may generate a momentum of their own. In the South Asian context, this not only implies belligerence and propensity for risk taking among Indian and Pakistani decision-makers, but also brings in the risk of miscalculations and inadvertent use. India and Pakistan use delivery systems that can be employed for conventional as well as nuclear weapons; in the absence of advanced early-warning capabilities, this has a destabilizing effect. Any incoming aircraft or missile could be perceived as an attempt at pre-emption. Moreover, the vulnerability of Pakistan’s nuclear decision-making chain of command—the entire hierarchy is housed within a 50-mile stretch in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and therefore could potentially be neutralized in a pre-emptive strike—may prompt the Pakistanis to consider dispersal of the high command or to delegate launch authority in advance. Pakistan’s lack of geographical depth provides an additional incentive for this latter step.

Delegation in advance also becomes likely if either side introduces tactical nuclear weapons for battlefield use. Pakistan recently signaled its intent to do so by conducting a flight test of the Nasr, a nuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of 60 kilometers.[21] Pakistan’s move is reportedly a response to the Indian Cold Start doctrine. Next, although both countries claim robust command and control structures, very few details are available, especially for the Indian program. In an escalated crisis, if either side contemplated mating warheads with delivery vehicles and then deploying them, the other likely would follow suit. Each side would have to transport its arsenal, disperse it, and make ground preparations for deployment, a process that easily could be misconstrued by the adversary as an imminent attack. The likelihood of this misperception (and others) is enhanced greatly by the acute trust deficit between the two sides; traditionally, each party has been inclined to expect the worst from the other.[22]

Way Forward for U.S. Policy

The original contracted-out model of escalation control was hardly one that instilled confidence in neutral observers, and even that may have run its course in South Asia, only to be replaced by a more tenuous one. With India seeking to exercise greater autonomy, the third party would have much less control over how a future crisis unfolds. A further complication is that India does not necessarily want the United States to detach itself completely; rather, it wants Washington to intervene at a slightly later stage in the crisis. Pakistan remains wedded to its belief that the United States will intervene right at the onset and restrain India. These misaligned expectations not only put the United States in a virtually impossible position, but also increase the likelihood of a miscalculation. Depending on how the United States approaches a specific crisis, at least one of the two sides is certain to view things as not going according to plan.

Addressing the conundrum requires the United States to provide a reality check to both sides. Washington should be forthcoming in explaining that it is in no position to guarantee a positive role in future Indian-Pakistani crises and that to expect it to be able to support one side or the other would be delusional. Indeed, to time an intervention perfectly in a fast-moving crisis and to be able to convince both parties to act against their inclinations would have to depend more on luck than any thought-out strategy in Washington.

Challenging India’s and Pakistan’s beliefs that the United States will show up and “save” them may well nudge the two sides toward greater efforts at institutionalizing bilateral escalation control. This would have several positive effects.

For starters, direct communication and signaling during crises must be encouraged. In the past, contacts either have been suspended or used extremely sparingly.[23] This urgently needs to be corrected. Hotlines between Indian and Pakistani political leaders, diplomats, and militaries must remain operational and be utilized to their full potential. The United States should play a proactive role in ensuring that the two sides use these channels during crises. It even may consider facilitating a binding protocol that requires all direct communication channels to remain operational in periods of tension.

Next, Washington should avoid raising false expectations. For instance, promising to punish a particular group on Pakistani soil after a terrorist attack in India is unfeasible at this point given the repercussions for the Pakistani-U.S. relationship and for Pakistan’s internal stability. Similarly, offers of additional support, such as for counterterrorism, to India as a reward should be made only if Washington believes that these can be delivered tangibly. Lack of follow-up has implications for the United States’ reputation in future crises; the implications go beyond the South Asian crises that are the subject of this article. U.S. allies elsewhere also observe this behavior and draw lessons for their own interactions with Washington.

Nevertheless, U.S. interlocutors should not shy away from pointing out misperceptions that either side may have, especially when these misperceptions undermine escalation control. For instance, it would be prudent to point out to the Pakistani authorities that impatience in Washington with their inability to tackle militancy may make it untenable sooner or later for any U.S. administration to continue with the current policy of engagement. The harsh rhetoric emanating from Washington and the virtual breakdown of the bilateral military relationship in the wake of the recent U.S. operation that killed Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan underscores this possibility. By the same token, the United States should work to dispel any belief in New Delhi that the international community will accept Indian aggression after a terrorist attack, irrespective of its escalatory effects.

More broadly, there is also a need to address the instability-inducing elements in the nuclear calculus that make escalation more likely. These include complete lack of transparency on command and control procedures and nuclear postures, mismatched views on what qualifies as “limited” war (what India views as limited, Pakistan may consider an all-out attack given the proximity of some of Pakistan’s major cities to the international border), use of dual-use missiles, absence of any agreements to bar pre-emption of each other’s arsenal or chain of command, and absence of nuclear risk reduction centers.

It is also pertinent to highlight the link between escalation control and broader U.S. policies for South Asia. From Pakistan’s perspective, the Indian-U.S. alliance has tilted the South Asian regional balance decisively in India’s favor. This growing asymmetry may lead Pakistan to bank more heavily on its nuclear capability; even its nuclear posture may become more aggressive if, at some point in the future, Pakistan believes the disparity to have become overwhelming. In fact, Pakistan’s efforts to stall any forward movement on negotiations for a fissile material cutoff treaty, its recent test of the Nasr short-range nuclear-capable missile, and the swift pace at which it is expanding its nuclear arsenal already are beginning to reflect this mind-set. Washington needs to reassure Pakistan through a long-term military-to-military relationship and by impressing on New Delhi the need to reconsider limited-war doctrines such as Cold Start and some of its Pakistan-specific deployments.

Finally, efforts toward crisis prevention are critical. The most prudent yet challenging way to avoid escalation is to address the underlying causes that unleash crises in the Indian-Pakistani context: anti-India terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil and the motivations for such attacks in the first place.

Addressing terrorism requires Pakistani political will and enhanced capacity to tackle groups known to have designs against India. Simultaneously, the two sides will have to show resolve to work together in defeating this menace. The existing “joint terrorism mechanism” provides the most obvious channel to do so. Moreover, a dialogue between the two sides’ intelligence services aimed at sharing information about potential dangers and at addressing complaints and removing misunderstandings generated from false intelligence also ought to be considered.

As for the motivations for anti-India terrorism, all of them directly or indirectly link up to the dissatisfaction of Pakistan-based militant groups with the status quo in Kashmir. Indeed, both India and Pakistan acknowledge the centrality of Kashmir to crisis prevention. The two countries made significant progress toward resolution during the bilateral peace process before the Mumbai attacks stalled their efforts. This, in addition to many previous ones, was a moment at which a proactive U.S. role could have been pivotal in preventing a breakdown of negotiations on Kashmir. In the future, a more proactive role in facilitating an uninterrupted Indian-Pakistani dialogue on the dispute must be viewed as a direct U.S. national interest in South Asia.

The contracted-out model of escalation control in South Asia is inherently risky. It attributes to the United States a task that would be made impossible by the likely actions of India and Pakistan in the next crisis. This situation could help trigger or deepen an Indian-Pakistani crisis. It must be changed.


Moeed Yusuf is South Asia adviser at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where he manages the institute’s Pakistan program. Previously, he was a research fellow at the Mossavar-RahmaniCenter at HarvardUniversity’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a fellow at the FrederickS.PardeeCenter at BostonUniversity.


ENDNOTES

1. Chari, Cheema, and Cohen conclude that tensions in 1987 were a result of Indian hawkish posturing with unclear motives while the 1990 crisis was unintended and accidental. See P.R. Chari, ParvaizI. Cheema, and Stephen P. Cohen, Four Crises and a Peace Process: American Engagement in South Asia (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2007), pp. 39-117, 204-205.

2. For an analysis of the nuclear dimension of the Kargil conflict, see Timothy D. Hoyt, “Kargil: The Nuclear Dimension,” in Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia: The Causes and Consequences of the Kargil Conflict, ed. Peter R. Lavoy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 144-170.

3. Rajesh M. Basrur, “Coercive Diplomacy in a Nuclear Environment: The December 13 Crisis,” in Prospects for Peace in South Asia, eds. Rafiq Dossani and Henry S. Rowen (Stanford: StanfordUniversity Press, 2005), pp. 302-304.

4. The stability-instability paradox holds that although nuclear weapons may induce stability at the higher end of the conflict spectrum, they simultaneously introduce instability at the lower end by increasing the likelihood of limited conflicts below the nuclear threshold. See Glenn Snyder, “The Balance of Power and the Balance of Terror,” in The Balance of Power, ed. Paul Seabury (San Francisco: Chandler, 1964), pp.184-201.

5. The author has identified a total of 65 verbal nuclear signals, conveyed through open sources or third parties.

6. For a complete list of signals conveyed during the crisis, see Moeed Yusuf, “Nuclear Signaling Between India and Pakistan: An Evaluation of the 2001-02 Crisis,” 2008 (on file with the author).

7. The need to reverse the perception was prevalent in India’s strategic enclave at the time the standoff began. The sentiment was captured most aptly by noted analyst Raja Mohan in a newspaper column: “[T]here is a growing belief in New Delhi that the time has come to call Pakistan’s nuclear bluff. If it does not, India places itself in permanent vulnerability to cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.” C. Raja Mohan, “Between War and Peace,” The Hindu, December 20, 2001.

8. For more than five weeks, Pakistan denied that any of the attackers were Pakistani citizens. When the national security adviser, Gen. Mahmud Durrani, acknowledged the nationality of the lone surviving attacker in the Mumbai carnage, Durrani was sacked for not having cleared his comment with the prime minister. From the very beginning of the crisis, however, Pakistan emphasized that the “state” had no prior knowledge of or connection to the attacks. “Spoke Too Soon on Kasab, Pak NSA Durrani Sacked,” CNN-IBN, January 8, 2009.

9. For a firsthand account of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington and the negotiations, see Bruce Riedel, “American Diplomacy and the 1999 Kargil Summit at Blair House,” in Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia: The Causes and Consequences of the Kargil Conflict, ed. Peter R. Lavoy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 130-143.

10. Timothy Crawford uses the term for a third party that exercises overwhelming superiority in terms of relative power over the two principal actors in any confrontation and thus holds significant sway over the situation. Timothy W. Crawford, Pivotal Deterrence: Third-Party Statecraft and the Pursuit of Peace (Ithaca, NY: CornellUniversity Press, 2003).

11. For a discussion of the U.S. role in the 2001-2002 crisis, see Chari, Cheema, and Cohen, Four Crises and a Peace Process, pp. 161-171.

12. “Rice Flies to India to Ease Tension With Pakistan,” Reuters, December 3, 2008; K. Alan Kronstadt, “Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai, India, and Implications for U.S. Interests,” CRS Report for Congress, R40087, December 19, 2008, pp. 2-3.

13. Anwar Iqbal, “U.S. Trusts Pakistan, Says White House,” Dawn, December 2, 2008.

14. The “reputation” of actors is considered a key determinant of bargaining behavior. Fred Iklé said, “[R]eputation can serve as a commitment to your negotiation position; and the more you enjoy a reputation of always remaining firm, the more convincing is this commitment to the opponent.” Fred C. Iklé, How Nations Negotiate (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1964), p. 83. Daryl Press takes this concept one step further in what he calls the “past actions theory”: a state’s track record on keeping its commitments is used to determine whether it is likely to carry out its threats in any present and future scenario. See Daryl G. Press, Calculating Credibility: How Leaders Assess Military Threats (Ithaca, NY: CornellUniversity Press, 2005), pp. 11-20.

15. Leaked diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks reveal Indian officials categorically stating to U.S. officials that India will not have a choice but to respond to another Mumbai-like attack through force. For a statement by Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram, see “India Warned of Response to Pakistan Attack: Wikileaks,” Dawn, May 20, 2011.

16. India officially has retracted its position on Cold Start, arguing that the doctrine was never considered for operationalization. Independent opinions, however, suggest that not only has the doctrine been considered but efforts were being made to operationalize the plan as far back as 2005-2006. For an excellent analysis, see Walter C. Ladwig III, “A Cold Start for Hot Wars? The Indian Army’s New Limited War Doctrine,” International Security, Vol. 32, No. 3 (Winter 2007/08): 158-190.

The author has also been part of policy conferences and simulations dedicated to Cold Start in which Indian participants discussed the rationale for and progress toward operationalization of the doctrine fairly candidly.

17. Daniel Markey, “Terrorism and Indo-Pakistani Escalation,” Contingency Planning Memorandum, No. 6 (January 2010), p. 7, http://i.cfr.org/content/publications/attachments/CPA_contingencymemo_6.pdf.

18. “If India Strikes, We Will Give Befitting Response, ISI Chief Tells Parliament,” India TV News, May 15, 2011.

19. In the Pakistani public narrative, there is, as one major Pakistani newspaper’s recent editorial put it, a “‘universalized’ belief…that America actually wants to ‘take out’ Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.” “Pakistan, U.S.—Different Wavelengths,” The Express Tribune, April 14, 2011.

20. Ganguly and Wagner argue that Pakistan’s ability to use provocativeness to its advantage holds in every crisis. See Sumit Ganguly and R. Harrison Wagner, “India and Pakistan: Bargaining in the Shadow of Nuclear War,” The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 27, No. 3 (September 2004): 499-501.

21. “Pakistan Successfully Test-Fires Nuclear Capable Hatf-9,” The Express Tribune, April 20, 2011.

22. See Moeed Yusuf, “Stability in the Nuclear Context: Making South Asians Safe,” Policy Brief, February 2011, www.jinnah-institute.org/images/ji_policybrief_nuclear_security_jan-25-2011.pdf.

23. Direct communication channels were used sparingly in 1999 and were completely suspended during the 2001-2002 standoff. In 2008 the two prime ministers did converse immediately after the attack, but the exchange backfired. Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani offered to send Pakistan’s spy chief to India for discussions, but later withdrew the offer under pressure from the military. The incident added to the mistrust and further inflamed Indian public sentiment. See “Pak Backtracks, to Send ISI Rep Now and Not the Chief,” Express India¸ November 28, 2008.

 

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