The foreign policy contours of the Barack Obama administration with respect to India are getting clearer by the day. Greater American pressure on Kashmir, a renewal of the tilt in favour of Pakistan and a general coolness towards India are quite visible.
So it was not surprising when on Tuesday US assistant secretary of state Rose Gottemoeller stressed that adherence of India, among other countries, to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) was a fundamental objective of the US. She was speaking at the United Nations in a meeting of 189 signatories of NPT.
Her statement comes barely seven months after the US exerted great diplomatic pressure on member nations of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to give a waiver to India for engaging in nuclear commerce without signing NPT.
At this time, one cannot say with certainty if Gottemoeller’s statement marks a complete break with the previous US administration of George W. Bush or whether it is part of an “atmospherics” exercise. There are countries that have complained about an exception being made in the case of India by helping it possess nuclear weapons and trade in nuclear technology at the same time. But given the world view of the Obama administration, it is more likely that it marks a departure from existing policy.
India has always argued that NPT is a discriminatory treaty that allows some countries to keep nuclear weapons and bans others from doing so. That logic has not changed. If the US feels that India has “blasted” its way into the nuclear club, then it should have worked harder for universal nuclear disarmament. It never did that. In fact, it has a record of duplicity in this respect. Nuclear weapons are part of American strategic and tactical military doctrines. Today, is the US in any position to make China agree to nuclear disarmament? What about Israel and North Korea?
This renewed pressure on the subject should not alarm India. It has weathered far more severe pressure on signing NPT during the first Bill Clinton regime. Remember Robin Raphael, another US assistant secretary of state? She would routinely come to New Delhi and indulge in crass pressure tactics. Today, Raphael is history. India should dismiss any arguments that Americans make on NPT.
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