PM says no to CTBT, warns of competition from China (Roundup)

June 12th, 2008 - 11:38 am ICT by IANS  

By M.R. Narayan Swamy
New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) India will never sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared Wednesday, even as he underlined the need to move forward with the stalled nuclear deal with the US to end “nuclear apartheid”. In a significant speech to Indian Foreign Service probationers here, the prime minister also warned of “a long arduous journey” in the efforts to resolve the Sino-Indian border dispute and of increased competition from China in the global search for oil.

The address covered a wide variety of subjects ranging from Bollywood and India’s soft power to global economy. Manmohan Singh also focussed on India’s neighbours and urged Indian diplomats to shed “Western perceptions” and develop an “Indian perspective” on the neighbourhood.

Speaking on the most important foreign policy challenge he has faced since becoming prime minister in May 2004, the prime minister acknowledged the difficulties the India-US nuclear deal had run into because of political opposition.

“Our domestic politics has prevented us from going ahead. I still continue to hope that we will make progress in the months that lie ahead. But it is very important for us to move forward to end this nuclear apartheid that the world has sought to impose on India,” he said.

Allaying fears that the deal would prevent India from conducting future nuclear tests and thus hurt its strategic interests, Manmohan Singh made it clear that New Delhi would not sign the CTBT even if other countries ratified it.

“Despite the fact that we are not a signatory to the NPT (nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty), and we have also said that if the CTBT came into being we will not sign it, there is no pressure from the US on India to sign the NPT or any other international arrangement … to enter into nuclear cooperation for civil energy,” he said.

In comments that made it clear that he was still for the nuclear deal despite opposition from the Left whose support is crucial for his government, the prime minister said: “For the first time we got the US to appreciate that India is a nuclear weapons state, that India has the right to develop nuclear power to protect its strategic interests, and that it is a decision that must be made by the people of India not subject to any international supervision or any international interference.”

The prime minister said India needed “a peaceful neighbourhood, and that is why it is very important that our relations with our neighbours, they are of critical importance in realising our national ambitions”.

Referring to the Sino-Indian border dispute, which led to a war in 1962, Manmohan Singh said the two countries were engaged in finding “pragmatic pathways to handle this complicated issue”. “Some progress is being made but I think there is a long arduous journey ahead of us.”

Later in his speech, speaking about the growing quest for oil, he said China had seized the opportunities all over the world, investing and exploring and developing natural resources for increased oil production.

“This tension will increase in the years to come,” he said. “Competition and cooperation have to be the watchwords. We have to cooperate but have also to recognise that there will be increasing competition from China, from other countries and also those who are entrenched would not like to make way for others - the newcomers.”

India, he said, had “a vested interest” in the stability of its immediate countries. If Bangladesh suffered from global warming, a large number of its nationals would enter India. If Nepal does not progress, he said many of its youths would be forced to move over to India.

“In the same way, there is a conflict in Sri Lanka, tragic though it is, it has given a lot of worries because many times it happens that when ethnic tensions increase, there is a tendency of increased inflow of refugees in our country and this creates both domestic problems as well as foreign policy problems (for India).”

He went on: “Many a times our own thinking about these countries is influenced excessively by Western perceptions of what is going on in these countries. I would like our diplomats to develop an Indian perspective on what is happening in our neighbourhood.”

He also said:

On economy: If we want to grow at the rate of 9 to 10 percent we need an investment rate of 35 to 40 percent. The bulk of savings needed to sustain this investment have been generated domestically. And fortunately our savings rate today is as high as 35 percent.

Global power play: Now in the international systems, there is going to be an immense pressure. And counties like India, countries like China - people are blaming them for global warming, for global food crises. Also blaming us for the rapid growth in demand of hydrocarbons as factor in the global crisis with regards to energy.

Terrorism: After 9/11 the world situation has changed, and has changed to a certain degree to our advantage. But there are still states sometimes actively backing the terrorist elements, and that there is a growing importance of the non-state actors in areas relating to terror. This gives our national security a new dimension.

Soft power: The soft power of India in some ways can be a very important instrument of foreign policy. Wherever I go in the Middle East, in Africa, people talk about Indian films. So that is a new way of influencing of world about the growing importance of India. Soft power is equally important in the new world of diplomacy.

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