Report of Meeting held at IIC Conference Room on 18 April 2011
Major General Dipankar Banerjee, Mentor
Three meetings were held between senior officials engaged in evolving the nuclear strategic outlook in India, Pakistan and China, including members of the armed forces, senior diplomats and leading scholars. A major accomplishment of these discussions was to bring the Chinese participation on board, especially in light of their absence on a track I level dialogue on nuclear issues. The dialogues included a simulation games exercise dealing with the possibility of a nuclear escalation in South Asia and discussed global nuclear trends and their impact on nuclear postures of the respective countries. Dialogues such as these are not easy to setup and this itself is an unprecedented measure to bring the three countries together to discuss nuclear issues. There are logistical and administrative problems which need to be dealt with. For which the cooperation from partner institutes needs to be acknowledged.
Mr. Siddharth Ramana, Research Officer
The four rounds of dialogue process involved very senior level participation from these three countries. The Indian delegation led by Maj. Gen. Dipankar Banerjee included Rear Adm. Raja Menon, Amb. K.C Singh and Professor R. Rajaraman, among others. The Chinese delegation was led by Professor Shen Dingli and supported by Maj. Gen. Pan Zhenqian, Col. Teng Jianqun, Prof. Han Hua et al. The Pakistan delegation included Amb. Najmuddin Shaikh, Lt. General Talat Masood, Professor Iqbal Cheema, Air Vice Marshal Shahzad Chaudhary among others. The dialogue further established India’s doctrinal position to its neighbours. The main points discussed were: the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, China’s patronage to Pakistan’s nuclear program, and overall safety and security standards relating to nuclear issues in the Asian region. The dialogue also furthered an Asian view towards elimination of nuclear weapons.
Amb. K.C Singh, Former Secretary
A marked difference in this round of dialogue was the active participation of the Chinese delegation in the proceedings of the dialogue. In previous meetings, there was a perception that the Chinese were sitting on the fence and watching India and Pakistan express their grievances. This time the Chinese were receptive to India’s inhibitions on the Chinese argument that non-NPT signatories should sign the treaty at the earliest. The Chinese responded by saying that the treaty can be amended, possibly in favor of India. It was also made clear to the Chinese that their relationship with Pakistan will eventually come under international legal covenants. India believes that Pakistan should also go through the same processes which India has gone through to achieve this stature. An interesting opposition came from the Chinese to the New START agreement who believe that the focus is now shifting to Asia and particularly to China’s nuclear arsenal.
Rear Admiral Raja Menon, Former Chairperson
, Net Assessment Team
The fact that the Chinese are discussing nuclear issues with us needs to be highlighted, since it is a major achievement in the Track II dialogue process. The Chinese have an arsenal which is lower than their capabilities and this is reflective of their thought process. According to them, a high arsenal increases its vulnerability, and therefore will not go down that route.
The Chinese however did not have a unified voice on the need to recognize that Asia is bucking the trend on nuclear weapons production and there was a perceptible difference between the voices from Shanghai (Pacifist) and Beijing (Hardliner).
A degree of cynicism came through China’s take on the New START agreement. The Shanghai group was more flexible and came up with an interesting theory that China is disadvantaged in having nuclear weapons. According to Prof. Shen Dingli, China’s rapid economic growth should have helped to upgrade its conventional weapons arsenal. However, its continued reliance on nuclear weapons obliterated its interests.
The Pakistan issue was also met by a stony silence from the Beijing group while the Shanghai group held that not all in China knew about its proliferation activities. With Pakistan, China was clear that it was an India specific arsenal. The Pakistan delegation brought up the fact that they offered a strategic restraint regime to India which India continues to decline. For some reason, track I is not looking at capping Pakistan in a bilateral nuclear limit.
Prof. R. Rajaraman, Emeritus Professor
The first issue discussed was the FMCT and how Pakistan views the impasse. Pakistanis argue that they have a real reason to object as a result of the Indo-US nuclear agreement, and their belief that the agreement enables India to build a bigger arsenal than it could have done otherwise. However, this is a myth, with existing stocks sufficient to cater to India’s military program by a factor of six or seven, the weapons reactors consume a fraction of India’s Uranium pools, and therefore, the nuclear agreement does not augment India’s production capacity per se.
On the question of Sino-Pakistan cooperation, the Chinese argued that it is done on a friendly basis with a neighboring state and it is not directed against India. These arguments seem reasonable on the energy front; however, the weapons cooperation was not elaborated on. Apart from the Chinese no one spoke about a malafide intention in the New START agreement. On the question of de-alert status, one needs to understand that these three countries are essentially off alert, and there was no movement over logistics of quantifiable and verifiable nature. Meanwhile, the Indian arguments of No First Use are not breaking ice with the Pakistan establishment, especially based on capability of weapons production, after the Indo-US nuclear agreement.
Report Prepared by Siddharth Ramana, Research Officer, IPCS
- WMD Terrorism was brought up with the parties, and it was made clear that it is not a straight deterrence which locks in conventional arsenals as well.
- The international community is not in favor of the agreement and the Chinese are not being able to satisfy international concerns on proliferation
- Pakistan’s strategic restraint regime is unworkable since it poses India to disarm its conventional forces which are needed against China.
- Concepts such as Cold Start are a retaliatory doctrine brought about by an escalation to a Low Intensity Conflict.
- It is in India’s interest to get the Pakistan army to get entangled with the Taliban, for Pakistan to realize the gravity of the situation facing them in their west.
- China is the leader in the Asian nuclear arena and therefore India needs to discuss with China.
- The calculations on warheads should not be based on fissile materials produced but on the number of vectors available to a state.