Gary Milhollin's Testimony before Senate Foreign Relations Committee

April 28, 2006
US should reward Pakistan, not India: N-expert
By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: A leading nuclear expert told the Senate this week that Pakistan was a closer ally of the United States than India, and yet it was Pakistan which had been discriminated against and even humiliated.

In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, said, “Under any calculation of America’s strategic relations, Pakistan ranks higher than India. Pakistan is essential to our ongoing military and political efforts in Afghanistan. Pakistan is also essential to our campaign against Al Qaeda. Without the aid of General Musharraf, we would have a much harder time accomplishing our goals in either of these endeavours. Pakistan is also a leading power in the Muslim world, a world with which the United States needs better relations. Yet, our deal with India is a blow to General Musharraf’s prestige at best, and at worst a public humiliation. We should not give General Musharraf more trouble than he already has. Israel, of course, has always been a close US ally, and will continue to be. Israel would like to have US nuclear cooperation. In addition, Israel is located in a part of the world that is of the highest importance to US foreign policy interests. In any competition for strategic favour from the United States, India finishes a distant third.”

He said the United States acted unilaterally when it made its deal with India, as there was no reported notification or coordination with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) before the deal was concluded. He told the committee during a hearing on the Indo-US nuclear deal that by violating the consensus norm of these regimes, the United States has invited other members to act the same way.

“If they do, they may make unilateral deals with Iran or Pakistan without informing the United States. This risk has been created by our own action, and certainly does not make us safer. The regimes also require enforcement. The member countries are required to investigate and shut down unauthorised exports by their own companies. Since the attacks on 9/11, we have been asking the other countries to do more of this. But can we really ask them to crack down on companies that are exporting the same kind of goods to Pakistan or Iran that we are exporting to India?” he asked

He said, “Even if we can convince the other supplier countries to give lip service to an exception for India, it is unrealistic to expect them to follow through with enforcement against their own companies. Once we start tinkering with the regimes, they could unravel quickly. As one expert in the Pentagon told me, they are like a spring-loaded box. If you raise the lid, you may never get it closed again. What he meant was that the United States has always set the standard for export controls, and other countries have often taken a long time to follow the US lead in strengthening them. But if the United States decides to loosen controls, it will take only an instant for other countries to follow. The lid will fly off, and we may never be able to get it back on.”

Milhollin said on a recent trip to Jordan, he was asked why the United States had decided to make nuclear exports to India, a question, he added, neither he nor any other American can answer. “India, Pakistan and Iran all decided to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of peaceful nuclear cooperation. From this standpoint, they are indistinguishable. Why punish Pakistan and Iran but not India? They are all guilty. There is no persuasive reason for treating them differently. India is no different today than it was in 1998, when it tested a nuclear weapon.”

He wondered what the grounds for this discrimination was. “None of us wants to think of the word religion, but it is a word that is in the mind of Muslim countries. If the United States is only against proliferation by countries it does not like, which now appears to be the case after the deal with India, why does it like some countries but not others?” he asked.

Milhollin told the committee that Congress should look deeply into these questions before approving the legislation. So far, he noted, it does not appear that this has been done, including by the administration. The administration’s plan was arrived at hastily, with no consultation with other regime members, and virtually none with Congress. There was even little consultation with arms control experts within the administration itself. The proponents of the deal have presented it as if it were simply a matter of trade and diplomacy. Congress should insist upon a full review of the strategic impact, he urged. From a strategic viewpoint, it should be asked why the US is helping India. Of the three countries that have refused to sign the NPT, India is the least important strategically. He wondered if India was considered important because it was to become a counterweight to China? However, the notion that India might assist the United States diplomatically or militarily in some future conflict was “pure speculation”. India’s long history as the leader of the “non-aligned” movement points in the opposite direction. India will follow its own interests as it always has. India shares a border with China, he pointed out, and is keen to have good relations with China, and does have good relations with China. It will not sour such relations simply from a vague desire to please the United States.

The nuclear expert asked why in that case had India been chosen for “preferential treatment”. He was of the view that India was being favoured because it is the biggest market.

It was India as a defence market that was really motivating the deal, he said. “India is shopping for billions of dollars worth of military aircraft, and the administration is hoping it will buy both the F-16 and the F-18 … Officials in the defence industry and the Pentagon are saying that the main effect of the nuclear deal will be to remove India from the ranks of violators of international norms. And once this change in India’s status occurs, there will be no impediment to arms exports … Boiled down to the essentials, the message is clear: export controls are less important to the United States than money. They are a messy hindrance, ready to be swept aside for trade. But, a decision to put money above export controls is precisely what we don’t want China and Russia to do when they sell to Iran … If they see that we are willing to put money above security, and willing to take the risk that dangerous exports won’t come back to bite us, they will do the same. Everyone’s security will diminish as a result. Thus, this legislation has clear costs to our security.”

Milhollin said the principal benefit cited by the administration is that India will place 14 of its 22 power reactors under inspection, but that leaves a great number of reactors off-limits. In fact, the reactors that are off-limits will be sufficient to produce enough plutonium for dozens of nuclear weapons per year. This is more than India will ever need. India is not restricting its nuclear weapon production in any way. Therefore, there is no “non-proliferation benefit” from such a step, he told the committee.

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