Brig. Vijai K Nair (Retd). Dr. Nair an M Sc. in Defence Studies and a Ph. D. in Political Science. He specializes in Nuclear Strategy formulation and nuclear arms control negotiations. He has considerable experience on issues related to NPT, CTBT and FMCT. Dr. Nair is currently revising the nuclear strategy for India [in keeping with nuclear transience] suggested in his book “Nuclear India.” Besides two tenures of combat duty, in service experience includes being a Member Army Experts Committee - 1989-90; Core staff officer to the Committee on Defence Expenditure 1990.
He is the Life Trustee of the Forum for Strategic & Security Studies; and, Managing Director, Magoo Strategic Infotech Pvt Ltd. An information service providing daily news updates and analyses on “Nuclear Agenda’s”.
Brigadier Vijai K Nair (Retd)
President Clinton, was seen on BBC, May 12, 1998, pompously issuing India orders to sign the CTBT without conditions or face blanket sanctions as though the billion strong Indian electorate had elected him to Govern India.
In comparison, one did not hear a murmur from the White-House when the Chinese and French continued nuclear tests immediately after the NPT got its indefinite extension. That too after Clinton had announced a "National Emergency," in November 1994, to deal with the threat of non-proliferation.
Presumably in US parlance there is a difference between horizontal proliferation and vertical proliferation.
Even there, a dichotomy exists. The US hummed and hawed after India tested its nuclear weapons on May 11 challenging Clinton's "National Emergency Law" by proliferating horizontally. It was only after the nature of this proliferation changed to vertical proliferation, on May 13, by testing highly sophisticated sub-Kiloton nuclear devices did he clamp sanctions on India
Ratify the means to expand NATO and heighten the threat to Russia by moving the nuclear phalanx onto their borders;
Impose sanctions on two companies in Pakistan and the DPRK who have no trade with the outside world;
Legitimise the illegal sale of 7000 MOPs computers that had been illegally sold to China;
and offer the Chinese space and missile technologies to improve their strategic capabilities.
Commendable, to say the least.
While it is well nigh impossible to work ones way through the labyrinth of US strategic thought, it is another thing to grips with the US $ - economic sanctions as mandated under US Law NPA-1994. See Box. [not attached].
To start with, the US placed trade sanctions on India in 1974 after the 'Pokharan PNE' and has never lifted them to date. So the phenomenon is not new. Secondly, the Indian Government has carried out in depth cost benefit analysis of the Indian economic and strategic being and come to the conclusion, that while it will hurt, India could live with US endeavours to strangulate its economy - for that is exactly what Clinton's sanctions amount to.
The truth of the matter is that domestic capacities exist - albeit poorly managed so far. If Clinton's intention was to fuel the fires of resentment he has done a particularly good job.
With US sanctions, pain is unavoidable, but how much can be administered effectively once the cat is out? And to what purpose?
Some points to ponder are:
(a) Ever since 1974 all US domestic laws have been applied to India and there is little else that it can do without actually declaring itself hostile to India. That would be a US decision about which India can do nothing. It would require an Indian response that is well thought out.
(b) US aid to India is a paltry $30 million, a fraction of what India farms out in aid to other countries.
(c) Stopping loans from US banks would hardly be noticed by India as they do not amount to all that much.
(d) Voting against provision of loans to India from institutions such as the IMF is a function of votes - and even then, it cannot stop what has been sanctioned and is in the pipeline. The effect would begin to be felt in 3 years’ time.
(e) The US cannot ignore the Indian market vis-`-vis its own economic imperatives, except to its disadvantage.
(f) India is not party to the NPT or the CTBT and, therefore, has not violated any international norms or agreements. The question of 'Opinio Juris' as used by the US and UK at the ICJ on the question of legality ofnuclear weapons - is now on the other foot.
(g) And the threat to stop high technology exports to India is a lot of wind. Such restrictions have been imposed for the last two decades and nothing of technological value has been forthcoming from the US.
(h) US sanctions in the defence sector are mythical. Neither has the US permitted any export of meaningful military equipment to India, nor has the Indian military establishment shown any inclination to induct equipment of US origin. In this area US interests are the only ones that will hurt as their efforts to wean the Indian military away from Russian equipment will face a setback.
Admiral K. K. Nayyar, Chairman of the Forum for Strategic & Security Studies, sums it up eloquently, "sanctions imposed by the US will have marginal immediate effects. In the long-term, it will be a blessing in disguise. The effect of these sanctions will be to change the direction which the enrichment of the Indian economy has followed so far. In the future, growth will have to be from bottom up, and the 'trickle down' concept, which has not worked so far, will be buried once and for all."