NO MORE NUKES?
June 4, 1998
Representatives from the five declared nuclear powers met in Geneva to discuss the recent testing in India and Pakistan. They urged India and Pakistan to sign a treaty banning further nuclear tests. After a background report, Margaret Warner leads a discussion.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, five perspectives on today's developments and efforts to restrict the nuclear club: Ashton Carter, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy now teaches at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government; Sujit Dutta is an analyst at the Institute for Defense Studies & Analysis in New Delhi, India; Kunihiko Saito is Japan's Ambassador to the United States; Diego Guelar is Argentina's Ambassador to the United States; and Ehud Sprinzak is a Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Welcome, gentlemen, all.Mr. Carter, do you think the steps taken in Geneva today are going to be able to put a lid on an arms race from developing in South Asia?
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
June 4, 1998
A background report on the situation in South Asia.
June 3, 1998
A report on the CIA's failure to foresee India's nuclear tests.
May 29, 1998
Examining regional implications of the nuclear struggle between India and Pakistan.
May 28, 1998
The Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. , the Indian ambassador to the U.S. and National Security Advisor Samuel Berger discuss the India/Pakistan dispute.
May 26, 1998
Pakistan prepares nuclear tests of its own.
May 14, 1998
Jim Lehrer asks a Pakistani government official if a nuclear arms race is about to begin.
May 13, 1998
India conducts a second round of nuclear tests.
May 12, 1998
A discussion on India's decision to test nuclear weapons.
Read what some experts had to say about the recent elections in India.
March 4, 1998
Will the BJP form the next government of India?
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the military and Asia.
Information on nuclear tests from the Embassy of India
Geneva: "A good statement."
ASHTON CARTER, Harvard University: Well, I think it was a good statement that was made today in Geneva, but by itself, it's not enough. In the first place, we have to remember that even though proliferation is a global problem, it happens in particular places at particular times for particular reasons. In this case, India and Pakistan exploded weapons that they've had for some time as an expression of their national pride in the case of India and then Pakistan, and then also because they have a long-simmering dispute between themselves and also problems with other neighbors, like China. And we have to get at those underlying problems if we're really going to lick China. And we have to get at those underlying problems if we're really going to lick proliferation in this area.
The second thing to note about today, of course, was that it was a statement by the nuclear haves about nuclear wannabes, and for the condemnation of proliferation that occurred today to be truly effective, it needs to be joined in by all the other nations of the world. The permanent five nuclear powers that you referred to earlier emerged in the wake of World War II. They're an artifact of a particular period of history 50 years ago. The nuclear nonproliferation treaty is not just a statement of those five countries; it's a statement of almost all the countries in the word, and those countries-the have nots and the haves-got together and said enough is enough. There should be no more than these historical nuclear powers, and the historical five should get rid of the nuclear weapons they have.
MARGARET WARNER: Okay.
ASHTON CARTER: That's the deal. There shouldn't be any more nuclear powers.
Time to end the arms race?
MARGARET WARNER: Ambassador Saito, do you think what happened in Geneva today-this initiative-is going to be enough to put the brakes on a nuclear arms race-first of all, just in South Asia?
KUNIHIKO SAITO, Ambassador, Japan: Well, we welcomed the statement, but I don't think this is just in stopping arms race, possible arms race in the region. I think other nations of the world, particularly G-8 countries, including Germany and Japan, should participate in the international efforts to persuade India and Pakistan from developing nuclear weapons.
MARGARET WARNER: So you agree with Mr. Carter that just having the Big 5, the nuclear club, isn't enough?
KUNIHIKO SAITO: Not enough. It's a good beginning.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Dutta, specifically today the Big 5 called on both India and Pakistan, for instance, to stop any further tests, to not deploy any nuclear tips on missiles, and also to sit down and talk about Kashmir. What do you think the prospects are that this kind of a communiqué and initiative from the Big 5 is going to have an impact on the course-that the way things are developing in the continent?
SUJIT DUTTA, Indian Defense Analyst: Well, I don' t think it has much impact, because it doesn't provide any solutions to the problem. What it does, it calls upon India to do things that it has already agreed to and it has already offered to sign the CTB Treaty, for example.
MARGARET WARNER: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
SUJIT DUTTA: Yes. Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which is one of the demands made. It has already declared a moratorium on testing unilaterally. So that is done unilaterally. It's-even the Pakistanis, I believe, have more or less committed themselves to no further testing. India has never exported missile and nuclear technology, unlike some of the countries that are doing-calling upon India to do so, like China. So there is a real problem with this regime. The regime doesn't look after the security interests of India, and for that matter Pakistan in this case. And they were, both of them, outside these regimes so far.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, let me just make sure I understand your answer, because first you said you didn't think it would be successful, but then you said well, actually India and Pakistan have offered to do a lot of these things.
SUJIT DUTTA: Yes.
MARGARET WARNER: What was in the initiative today that won't work?
A viable arms structure?
SUJIT DUTTA: The initiative here that-the question is-the things that have already been done is not the issue. The issue here is far more important, and that is, is this kind of global nuclear arms structure viable? Does it meet the security and general security requirements of the countries involved? They say that the five power structure is going to remain per se for the coming century. Is it going to be-in any way provide ways and means of solving problems that these countries have-and particularly one of the countries, China, is part of the problem in this case. I mean, China's proliferation is a problem for India.
MARGARET WARNER: All right Ambassador Guelar, what's your view of this larger question Mr. Dutta just raised? Does it make sense anymore to try to restrict nuclear weapons status to the original five?
DIEGO GUELAR, Ambassador, Argentina: Well, that's a fact. I don't think that we are going to change that. On the contrary, I think-
MARGARET WARNER: No. I mean, does it make sense to try to restrict it to only the five, or do you think we're entering a new era where there are going to be more nuclear states?
EHUD SPRINZAK, Hebrew University: No, I hope note. And I hope that India and Pakistan are going to follow the example of other countries like Argentina-set the first example, and then we've got New Zealand.
MARGARET WARNER: By abandoning the program.
EHUD SPRINZAK: Abandon the program and organize the common agencies-supranational agency based in Rio De Janeiro that monitor both programs and the peaceful use of our nuclear programs, that there is in other nations like South Africa, Korea, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, also have decided to self-restrain. I feel that this is very important example, and we have to be very active to offer cooperation and show clearly our example.
MARGARET WARNER: Well, explain why Argentina-just briefly-why Argentina decided to abandon its program.
Why Argentina abandoned its nuclear program.
EHUD SPRINZAK: Well, likely we will reach the moment where we were in technical conditions to produce the bomb at the beginning of the 80's. And that was the moment where we recovered democracy, and that was the same that was happening in Brazil and the strong decision of both democratic governments was to work together in the field of integration, and we are building a custom union. We are a custom union. We're building a common market together, and we are monitoring both programs just for energy and medical purposes.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think it makes sense to try to continue to restrict membership to the original five, plus most people believe Israel also has weapons, though has not declared them, or has the capability-I mean, does it make sense to try to maintain that structure?
EHUD SPRINZAK: Well, of course it makes sense. We want to limit the number of people who are playing with these very dangerous toys. I have to say that I'm not impressed at all by the statement. For me, what else is knew? This could just be issued before the testing. What's important is what is being done completely by these powers, especially what my colleague has just said, what is being done about China. China in the past has not just been inspector. It has also been a participant. Also, what about addressing the concrete concerns of India? I have a feeling that for many years nobody paid attention to this 950 million people and their concerns. And the issue is not what is the statement. Of course, everybody expects the big powers and the Big 5 to make this kind of statement, but whether or not they will address concrete issues, including the conflicts, because, after all, the reason that Argentina and Brazil do not need to have it-Israel in a moment I'll say a word-is because they do not face such a conflict.
There are serious conflicts in that part of the world, and unless you address the problem seriously, not formally and then forget about it, do other things with Monica Lewinsky, seriously address these issues, you'll be surprised again. So as far as my country, Israel is concerned, of course, we have our own anxiety, and which is one of the major reasons why I think Israel cannot afford to be part of any agreement, but at the same time, it's a very astute policy of not declaring. So we are not really part of the game at all.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Carter, address what both Mr. Dutta and Professor Sprinzak said about the fact that the bigger powers really have to do something more to take care of the security concerns of the-as you describe them-nuclear wannabes. Is that practical? What can be done?
ASHTON CARTER: Well, in this case I think the particular issues that we need to address have to do with Kashmir and of the possibility of a real war between India and Pakistan, but I think the more general answer to the question you've repeatedly raised about this club and what sense does this club make, I think we need to say that Americans or British or French or Russians are not more virtuous than India's Indians and Pakistanis. This technology of nuclear weapons fundamentally the world has recognized it's too dangerous for anyone to have forever, and, therefore, the nuclear states have pledged to reduce their nuclear weapons, and the rest of the world has said, well, we won't add any other nuclear powers to the mix that already exists. These weapons last-in the case of uranium-for hundreds of millions of years.
Who belongs to the club?
There are going to be many turns of the human wheel over those many hundreds of millions of years, and who knows in what hands these will fall, so the point isn't that India or Pakistan don't belong in a club that these other powers belong. And fundamentally, no one belongs in this club. And the nuclear five are committed, including the United States, to getting rid of their nuclear weapons. And most Americans are watching your show understand that they have the most powerful non-nuclear military on earth. They don't need nuclear weapons. The United States has said over time, with everyone else, this club will shrink to no club at all. But the fact that history has left us with this club doesn't mean we should enlarge it.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Dutta, you've been shaking your head.
SUJIT DUTTA: Yes. These are good sentiments, and I hope the nuclear weapon countries follow them. But, as you know, Article 6 of the NPT, which says-
MARGARET WARNER: The Non-Proliferation Treaty, just to keep straight the two treaties.
SUJIT DUTTA: The Non-Proliferation Treaty clearly says that there should be disarmament, they should work towards disarmament, but neither the Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty moves towards disarmament, as you know. And even after the START II Treaty, the two countries, the two leading nuclear weapon countries, are likely to be saddled with 3,500 nuclear warheads. And there is no program in any of the doctrines of the five nuclear weapon states for nuclear abolition, and the maximum that they are thinking of currently at START IV stage is probably for 2,000 nuclear warheads.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. But what's wrong with having the two-tier system that you decry, a few nuclear weapon states and nobody else? The argument Mr. Carter made, which is they're really too dangerous for anyone and we don't want a whole lot of countries to have them-
SUJIT DUTTA: Well, if it's too dangerous for everyone, then it's too dangerous for everyone, then they should be dealt with and abolishment is the only way. Weapons of mass destruction, as you know, in the chemical weapons convention and the biological weapons convention deal with it in universal fashion. India has been demanding this for years, that nuclear weapons fall in the same category and, therefore, there should be a nuclear weapons convention on similar lines.
Second, if there are five countries and they don't affect the interest of anybody else, this is a fine system. But these five countries affect the interest of some countries in terms of security and politics. China-in their case it is not India and Pakistan. The statement is wrong by focusing on India and Pakistan. China is an active participant in the nuclear problem of South Asia. And because China is there, there are other countries that are a problem, because China will then say Russia and the United States-so it's a chain that is already there.
Should the two-tier system be maintained?
MARGARET WARNER: Is this a chain, Mr. Ambassador Saito, that is a chain-then it's also going to be expanding, or do you think the two-tier system can be maintained and should be maintained?
KUNIHIKO SAITO: Yes, we do believe so.
MARGARET WARNER: Why?
KUNIHIKO SAITO: It should be maintained, because if the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons increases, then the stability of the whole world will be negatively affected, and in 1960's, when we started talking about this non-proliferation system, we found that five countries already had nuclear weapons. So we agreed that we should try to prevent other countries from possessing nuclear weapons. And we have succeeded so far. And now we have India and Pakistan conducting nuclear tests, and I think it's obvious that these tests will negatively affect the stability of the region and of the whole world. And how can you expect other nations to refrain from conducting nuclear tests and having to have nuclear problems of their own if your own country conducts that test?
SUJIT DUTTA: Every other country has given up the right. Every other country has signed the NPT and CTBT. It's only these two countries that have not signed it.
KUNIHIKO SAITO: I don't think we are talking about purely legal obligations this time. We are talking about real politics. We are not blaming that India violated this treaty. I agree. We are not a party, but today I think we are talking about politics, not about-
MARGARET WARNER: You're saying essentially once the door's been opened, there are other countries that want to-if the club is going to expand, they'd like to be in, do you agree?
EHUD SPRINZAK: Well, first, he's talking about psychology, the psychological effect. And, in general, I agree, but, again, the most important issue is the security of each and every nation. And, as I suggested earlier, people who are not under major security threat are likely to play according to the rules. But, again, about Israel, one of the major reasons-and it started already in the early 50's-there was a drive in Israel to think about it and eventually to develop even though we have never declared. It's because the higher security of the state was in jeopardy. As a matter of fact, Israel was the only country in the world whose existence was questioned. And whatever you talk-whatever you say about the need for international security does not match the sense of insecurity. Once, for example, in the Middle East, we are moving from an era of war into an era of peace, then of course, you see a possibility of doling other things, so the issue is security and state security is the most important part for every nation, and it has nothing to do with a general desire of everybody to participate in a nice, better world.
Should all states eliminate nuclear weapons?
MARGARET WARNER: Let me get Ambassador Guelar back in this. What do you say to Mr. Dutta, who says if you want states like his to renounce nuclear weapons, all states should? I mean, do you like having a two-tier system, or would you like to see all states eliminate nuclear weapons?
DIEGO GUELAR: No, we would like all-a full elimination of nuclear weapons. We don't have any doubt, but there is no doubt that seven states with nuclear weapons are worse than five. I would say that if we follow the example of India, we are in technical condition to do it. And that would be worse for the world if Argentina and Brazil, South Africa, Korea, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, the countries that have the power, the technical possibilities to develop more tests, that will be really major disaster. What I am sure is that there's not the responsibility and the control in the five nuclear powers-we have to open this debate and guarantee it and give all the conditions and help both Pakistan and India to destroy their nuclear weapons.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. I'm afraid this debate is over, but thank you, gentlemen, very much.