CPI(M) Opposed to Signing CTBT now

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Press Release

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has informed the Prime Minister that the Party is against the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at this juncture. The major reasons due to which India refused to sign the CTBT in 1996 remain valid at present. India should insist on a time-frame for complete nuclear disarmament by the nuclear weapon states. Till this is agreed upon, there should be no signing of the CTBT and no nuclear weaponisation. The CPI(M) is opposed to nuclear weaponisation and deployment. The Party has proposed that an Act be adopted by Parliament pledging that India will not conduct any more nuclear explosive testing.

The delegation of the CPI(M) which met the Prime Minister today consisted of Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Prakash Karat, E. Balanandan, Sitaram Yechury and Rupchand Pal. The note submitted to the Prime Minister by the Party is given below.

Note By CPI(M) On CTBT

The government of India has announced that it intends to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty after creating a domestic consensus on the issue. In 1996 when the treaty was adopted, India had refused to sign. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is of the opinion that the major reasons for refusing to sign the CTBT then are still valid today. The core objection spelt out by the Government of India's representatives, was that the CTBT -- as a corollary of the discriminatory NPT regime -- failed to meet the test of both India's disarmament objective and its security concerns.

Article I of the treaty prohibits state parties from conducting ``any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion'' and on the basis of the negotiating record, this is understood to include all nuclear explosions with yields above zero --in accordance with U.S. President Bill Clinton's August 1995 proposal. Article IV and the verification protocol provide for a tough verification regime which will rest on an International Monitoring System and on-site inspections that could, under certain circumstances (as Iraq's experience has shown even before the CTBT has entered into force), prove unacceptably intrusive. Then there is the near-coercive Article XIV which provides for Entry Into Force (EIF). What the latter means for India is that its ratification of the CTBT (along with ratification by 43 other states specified for possessing nuclear power and research reactors) has been made a specific condition for EIF. The effective deadline was supposed to be September 24, 1999, that is, three years after the CTBT was opened for signature.

1) Discriminatory

Against such a draft treaty, the first Indian objection was that the nuclear weapons states led by the United States were bent on perpetuating the discriminatory global nuclear order. Having exploded more than 2000 nuclear devices and developed nuclear arsenals good enough to destroy the world many times over, they had now determined that there was no need for any more explosions. It was, in the words of Ambassador Prakash Shah, India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, ``an extension of the exercise to limit horizontal nuclear proliferation.'' Designed to preserve the hegemony of the nuclear weapon powers, the CTBT was unacceptable to India which was resolutely opposed to discrimination in nuclear affairs. Now it is claimed that the treaty is not at all discriminatory because, unlike the NPT, it places the same obligations on all member signatories. The real Indian objection was that, in a formally equitable arrangement (which External Affairs Minister I.K. Gujral officially characterised as a ``charade''), the effects of the obligations placed on nuclear weapon states and the rest, including the threshold states, would be profoundly different.

2)No time-bound disarmament commitment

The second official Indian objection was that the nuclear weapon states, led by the United States, were refusing to commit themselves to any time-bound disarmament schedule. Instead, they had provided themselves, in the words of Ambassador Shah, with ``a licence...to proliferate nuclear weapons'' through ``the indefinitely extended Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.'' Obviously, this character flaw in the CTBT -- the absence of any linkage with a time-bound global disarmament contract -- remains, except that the Indian Government has now sought cover for India under the `licence'. The demand for linkage between the CTBT and elimination of nuclear weapons was consistently pressed by India’s negotiators in 1994-1996.

3) Built-in loopholes

The third Indian objection to the CTBT was that the nuclear weapon states, and especially the United States, had written into the treaty loopholes which would permit them, while maintaining their active stockpiles, to continue refining and developing their nuclear arsenals at their test sites and in their laboratories. The CTBT prohibited all nuclear explosions above `zero yield'. However, sophisticated sub critical experiments (SCEs), computer simulation and the development of frontier technologies, which were not banned, would enable the advanced nuclear weapon states to refine, develop and sharpen their nuclear arsenals.

This differential -- and discriminatory -- effect of the CTBT ban on above `zero yield' nuclear explosions is unlikely to have changed in favour of India as a result of the five Pokhran explosions, the data they have yielded, and the scientific capabilities they have established.

4)Coercive EIF clause

Fourthly, India strenuously objected to the near-coercive Article XIV, which provides that if the CTBT has not entered into force by September 24, 1999, the states which have ratified the treaty shall meet in a Conference that will consider the situation and ``decide by consensus what measures consistent with international law may be undertaken to accelerate the ratification process in order to facilitate the early entry into force of this Treaty.'' It is noteworthy that even the NPT does not have this draconian provision for EIF. In effect, by throwing the entire burden of the CTBT coming into force on India's shoulders, by making India accountable for the treaty not entering into force and its consequences, and by fixing a deadline, Article XIV of the CTBT represents a direct demand on India's sovereignty and also an ultimatum.

5) National security concerns

The final Indian objection to the CTBT was raised from the standpoint of India's national security. In his statement of August 22, 1996 made in Geneva, External Affairs Minister Gujral mentioned, among other objections, ``certain national security concerns'' which ``make it impossible for us to subscribe to a draft CTBT that is merely an instrument for horizontal non-proliferation rather than disarmament.

While pointing out that the country had exercised ``unparalleled restraint'' in not carrying out nuclear explosions after 1974 and in refraining from ``weaponising our option,'' Gujral declared that ``we cannot accept constraints on our option as long as nuclear weapon states continue to rely on their nuclear arsenals for their security.''

Weaponisation the Central Issue

The BJP-led government in May 1998 reversed the long-standing position of India of refraining from weaponisation and deployment while maintaining our independent nuclear technological capacity. The central issue is therefore weaponisation. It is this stand of the government that dictates an understanding with the United States which would enable India to keep a nuclear arsenal, i.e. a "minimum credible nuclear deterrent", while abandoning the agenda of global nuclear disarmament. According to the CPI(M), surrendering on the CTBT and being copted into the discriminatory global order as a minor partner would be the worst possible option for India.

The CPI(M) therefore proposes that nuclear weaponisation be halted and rolled back and that India's policy be an independent and peace-oriented one. Towards this end we propose the following steps:

1. A national commitment to the non-deployment and non-induction of nuclear weapons.

2. A national commitment to no further nuclear explosive testing -- first through a unanimously adopted resolution of both Houses of Parliament and then, as soon as feasible, through an Act of Parliament. Such an Act can incorporate suitable language from Article IX of the CTBT that absolutely commits India to non-testing unless ``extraordinary events’’ jeopardising ``its supreme interests’’ intervene. In such an extraordinary situation, any departure from non-testing will require a precisely formulated statement, in advance, to both Houses of Parliament of the extraordinary event or events that the Government of India regards as jeopardising India’s supreme interests; and a full parliamentary discussion before any departure is made.

3. India should consider the signing of the CTBT in the future if the United States and other nuclear weapon states agree to set a definite time-frame within which the elimination of nuclear weapons is to be achieved under the auspices of the Conference on Disarmament.

4. A national commitment to non-conversion of fissile material stocks, that is plutonium or enriched uranium, into nuclear weapons – first through a unanimously adopted resolution of both Houses of Parliament and then, as soon as feasible, through an Act of Parliament. Here too, qualifying language comparable to the qualifying language adopted in the Act mentioned in step 2 can be incorporated.

5. Abjuring the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, and the Indian variant of the `minimum credible nuclear deterrent’, and returning to the path of active advocacy of global nuclear disarmament, in close cooperation with other third world and non-nuclear weapon countries.