INDIAN RESERVATIONS about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) are expected to be reflected at a key conference in New York later this month. On March 30, former foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon told a news conference on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's departure for the G-20 summit that the treaty in its current form did not satisfy New Delhi. Earlier the same month, Shyam Saran, the Prime Minister's special envoy on nuclear issues, reminded his American interlocutors that the CTBT should be explicitly linked to the goal of nuclear disarmament. He told an interaction organised by the Brookings Institution in Washington that "if the world really moves categorically towards nuclear disarmament in a credible timeframe, then India-US differences over the CTBT will probably recede into the background."
A source familiar with the CTBT negotiation process told this newspaper that India's stand was predicated on the following issues: Whether there was an express link to disarmament; how to deal with the Article 14, which places India in a category of states whose signature and ratification is deemed necessary for the treaty to come into force; salience of hydronuclear technology for India, given the reports that China and Russia were conducting hydronuclear tests to corroborate computer findings and/or simulations; making public a secret understanding of 1999 of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, which a US diplomat alluded to during a congressional hearing; and if all the other states -- including India -- agree, would Pakistan and North Korea come on board.
Foreign ministers from a 100odd countries would meet in New York on September 24 and 25 to promote the entry into force of the CTBT. For the first time since 1999 the US will participate in the conference, which would issue a final declaration calling upon India and seven other countries -- China, North Korea, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and Pakistan -- to ratify the treaty. Also, US President Barack Obama has convened a meeting of the UN Security Council on September 24 to focus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including CTBT. It would be the first time since 1992 that such a meeting of the UNSC takes place.