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Deterrence At What Cost?


Raja Menon

INDIA'S NUCLEAR DIPLOMACY AFTER POKHRAN II
A Project of Ajay K. Rai
Pearson Longman, Delhi, 2009, pp. 270, Rs. 575.00

NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION IN SOUTH ASIA: CRISIS BEHAVIOUR AND THE BOMB
Edited by Sumit Ganguli and S. Paul Kapur
Routledge, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 251, Rs. 795.00

NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND CONLFLICT TRANSFORMATION: THE CASE OF INDIA-PAKISTAN
By Saira Khan
Routledge, New Delhi, 2009, pp. 202, Rs. 745.00

VOLUME XXXIII NUMBER 8-9 August/September 2009

Ajai Rai’s book is, as the author states, the record of how Indian diplomacy changed its strategy after 1998, to rescue the country first from isolation, and later sanctions, to eventually recover and even advance its position in the world. Both the US and India at first stumbled, as India blurted out the truth undiplomatically about China being a threat, and Clinton appeared to co-opt China into controlling South Asian nuclear proliferation. Although Resolution 1172 laid down the benchmark of sanctions against India, the effect on the country was noticeably negotiable. Some nationally recognized figures in India were refused visas to attend conferences in the US and attracted more media attention than the sanctions.   Soon enough the Strobe Talbott-Jaswant Singh talks began and now it was a question of negotiating a settlement between the US position of ‘cap and roll back’ and the Indian one of strategic autonomy. But the author is right in his overall view that the Indian diplomatic effort was intense, particularly under a Vajpayee whose vision quite easily meshed with what was possible and what India could not do. But the watershed in the US-India relationship had very little to do with the success of India’s diplomatic effort. The tide was reversed by the election of President Bush to the White House, and the determination of his advisers to make a special case for India. What the author seems to have missed was the extent of the Clinton administration efforts to accommodate China. Although acknowledged, Rai does not bring out the full import of the Senate hearings on the Chinese nuclear transfer to Pakistan. What really happened was that under the smokescreen of a visible transfer of 36-M11 missiles, the Chinese transferred the entire M9 missile factory, now set up in Fatehjung and producing missiles faster than India. The CIA did mention at the hearing that M9 and M11 transfers had taken place, but this turning point in the arms race in South Asia has been ignored, because the Indian Foreign Service ignored it too.   The outlines of President Bush’s new vision for nonproliferation in the form of the Seven Point Agenda gave India an entirely new role in nonproliferation that went beyond the NPT. India saw which way the wind was blowing and rapidly moved to support the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty. At about this time the US and India signed the ‘...


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