South Asia

China, the U.S. and Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia

This is an Indian view of nuclear relations between India, the U.S., China and Pakistan. We welcome your comments, which you can submit below.

Writing in the India daily The Telegraph, Kanwal Sibal, a former foreign secretary of India and a member of EWI's Board of Directors, urges the United States to oppose China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation.

Sibal suggests that the China's recent decision to sell two nuclear power reactors to Pakistan threatens nuclear non-proliferation agreements. "When [China] joined the non-proliferation treaty in 1992, it subjected itself to the treaty’s discipline of abjuring any nuclear cooperation with a non-NPT State like Pakistan," he writes, adding: "Further cooperation by China with Pakistan would be in violation of the non-proliferation obligations that China has voluntarily accepted."

Sibal sees China’s nuclear cooperation with Pakistan as "a deeply hostile act towards India," writing, "China’s political objective was to strategically neutralize India in its own region by propping up Pakistan with nuclear capacity so that the latter could pursue its confrontationist policies without fear of military reprisals by a conventionally superior India."

Further, Sibal takes issue with suggestions that the China-Pakistan deal is a justifiable reaction to India-U.S. cooperation on civilian nuclear technology. "China and Pakistan are giving currency to the canard that the Indo-US deal will enable India to increase its weapons production rate, promote an arms race in the subcontinent, and increase the chances of a nuclear conflict between two long-term adversaries," he writes. "It is instructive that China should use the security argument to justify the deal with Pakistan, for it implies that China sees it not as a ‘civilian’ initiative but as a military one. China wants to build up its protégé Pakistan against any strengthening of India perceived as U.S.’s new protégé."

Sibal is particularly disappointed by U.S. reactions to the deal. He continues: " For weeks, U.S. reports prepared international opinion for a tepid American response to this frontal Chinese challenge to the non-proliferation regime and the NSG. It was speculated that the U.S. and China had struck a deal under which China would support U.S.-led sanctions against Iran in the Security Council against the U.S.’s condoning of the Sino-Pakistan nuclear deal. It was also conveniently argued that the NSG guidelines were not legally binding, and that if China was bent on going ahead the U.S. could do precious little, especially at this juncture of financial dependence on China. Not surprisingly, in a travesty of facts, the blame for creating such a situation was placed on the failure of the Bush administration to secure any non-proliferation concessions from India. The anti-India U.S. non-proliferationists found a way to blame India for the Sino-Pakistan deal."

The U.S. has a special responsibility to oppose the deal, Sibal argues. "The Indo-US nuclear deal was accompanied by stringent non-proliferation conditions, some at the cost of our sovereignty and dignity," he writes. "India had to subject itself to a prolonged U.S. legislative process with all the political sensitivities of having to fend off the extra-territorial application of U.S. laws, besides having to undergo a supplicatory diplomatic exercise with NSG members to obtain their consent. If, as the Chinese argue, they and Pakistan are respecting their international obligations and the new power plants will be under IAEA safeguards, where was the need for India to be put in the wringer of a tortuous, conditions-laden process by the U.S.? Why did the US pressure others not to cooperate with India until the US cleared the way? We too could have obtained nuclear cooperation by simply agreeing to put internationally assisted reactors under IAEA safeguards. The US cannot have different standards for China/Pakistan and for us."

Click here to read Sibal's article in The Telegraph

Lies, Damned Lies and…Indexes?

Writing for, W. Pal Sidhu, discusses the 2010 Global Peace Index's dismal assessment of South Asia and the role regional powers can play in reversing troubling trends towards instability.

“In what might be the understatement of the year, the GPI notes that the ‘world has become slightly less peaceful in the last year,’ and argues that in some states the decline in peace ‘appears to be linked to the global economic downturn,’” Sidhu writes.

Of the 149 ranked states, four South Asian countries are ranked in the bottom twenty—Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar—with Pakistan ranked among the bottom five.  "Of all these, Pakistan’s descent into the bottom five—sinking three places since last year—should be of particular concern.” Sidhu argues, adding: "While many in the region, including in Pakistan, do not wish that country any good, it is worth pondering the negative implications of a less peaceful and unstable Pakistan on the region."

Sidhu disagrees with the correlation the GPI draws between these negative trends in regional security and the recent economic downturn. “While this may be true for Portugal, Greece and Spain, which experience the ‘largest decline in peacefulness of any region,’ it does not resonate in the case of India and China, both of which registered high economic growth rates over the past year despite the relative decline in peacefulness,” he writes.

India has a special role in addressing the situation, Sidhu suggests. "Clearly, India, as the self-professed benign and responsible hegemon in the subcontinent, must bear the onus for building the necessary institutions and providing the essential leadership to not only police the neighbourhood (and ensure the absence of violence), but also to establish 'a positive peace of justice, tolerance and plenty,'" he writes. "New Delhi would do well to adhere to these principles while addressing internal security challenges and before embarking on establishing a peaceful external neighbourhood."

Click here to read Sidhu's column on

Report Calls for International Coordination on Cybersecurity

The EastWest Institute and the Data Security Council of India released a report today laying out several recommendations to begin building the legal, technical and administrative foundations for an international system to secure cyberspace.

The study, The Cybersecurity Agenda: Mobilizing for International Action, calls for the collaborative use of defensive technology, information gathering, astute analysis and traditional diplomacy to defend global information and communications systems.

Above all, the study urges governments and businesses around the world to work not as competitors but as partners to ensure cybersecurity.

“No country or entity can achieve universal dominance in cyberspace,” said Kamlesh Bajaj, author of the report and CEO of the Data Security Council of India.

“All countries must work together to manage grave and growing cyber risks that can have a direct and devastating impact on the world’s people and economy.”

Among the report’s recommendations: creation of an international network of national nodal centers that engage both public and private sectors; establishment of emergency response teams and an international clearing house to serve as an early-watch-and-warning system; and development of legal norms to address issues of territorial jurisdiction, sovereign responsibility and the use of force.

“Cybersecurity lies at the nexus of policy, law, ethics and national security,” said Bajaj.

“We cannot manage the risks inherent in cyberspace without the active involvement of private and public sectors around the world.”

“Businesses and governments must act immediately to catch up with the rapidly proliferating threats to the communications networks and the world’s digital economy,” added Greg Austin, Vice President of Program Development at the EastWest Institute.

“This report provides an extremely useful starting point, and we will work to ensure it gets the attention it demands.”

Security Watch
Source Author: 
Janet Harris

Limits to a U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue

Writing for the Mail Today, Kanwal Sibal argues that the scope of a strategic dialogue between the U.S. and India is limited by U.S. relations with India's main adversaries, China and Pakistan.

Sibal, a former foreign secretary of India and a member of EWI's Board of Directors, suggests that U.S. and Indian interests are not aligned closely enough to elevate the two countries' relationship to the level of a "strategic dialogue.

"At what stage is normal diplomatic parleying ready for being upgraded to the level of a strategic dialogue?" he asks. "Clearly, the basis has to be sufficient bilateral understanding on key issues that materially affect the fundamental interests of the countries involved, enough to be able to work together to align interests as much as possible and formulate and adjust policies accordingly."

Sibal suggests that such an alignment of interests does not exist in the U.S.-India relationship. "In reality, it is not possible for the U.S. to reconcile the contradictions inherent in any serious 'strategic' discussions with India as well as countries that India sees as most antagonistic to it in strategic terms -- China and Pakistan," he writes.

Specifically, he argues that the U.S. will be reluctant to compromise its sensitive relationship with China, and India would prefer to resolve its issues with China without U.S. intervention. " In the case of India’s relationship with China, serious strategic issues are at play, whether those relating to the unsettled border, China’s strident claims on Arunachal Pradesh, the militarization of Tibet, China’s relationship with Pakistan etc.," he writes. "These contentious issues will remain outside the scope of the India-U.S. strategic dialogue. The U.S. would not like to wade into them and India too would be averse to bringing in any third party into its bilateral territorial problems with China."

Similarly, he suggests that U.S. ambitions in Afghanistan and Pakistan also complicate the India-U.S. dialogue. "Pakistan will continue to receive military aid both as an incentive to cooperate more with the U.S. in counterinsurgency operations against the Taliban and as an assurance of a longer term engagement with the country that would endure beyond the resolution of the Afghanistan problem, of which enhanced economic aid and the strategic dialogue at Foreign Minister’s level are an integral part," he adds. "Notwithstanding what is being said about not allowing any country to have any dominating role in Afghanistan, the fact remains that a political solution in Afghanistan that provides for Taliban’s participation would give Pakistan the role it seeks. An upgraded India-U.S. strategic dialogue is not going to alter these realities."

"Notwithstanding the rhetoric and atmospherics and India’s interest to explore the full potential of improved bilateral ties in our own national interest, the upgraded strategic dialogue with the U.S. should not beguile us into believing that a strategic understanding with it has been reached," he concludes, adding: "Were the U.S., which has overlooked China’s proliferation activities in Pakistan in the past, to condone them again,  the limits of an India-U.S. strategic understanding would have been clearly drawn.

Click here to read the article on Mail Today.


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