Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty"
Chellaney, interviewed by
Michael Roston, Patrick Speice and Gordon Mitchell
(Ross Smith, interview moderator and transcript editor)
March 26, 2003
I am Ross Smith, the debate coach at Wake Forest University. I volunteered
to moderate this discussion, which is a primary research initiative to connect
the intercollegiate policy debate community to the professional, or
"real world" community, with which we share common subject
matter. So it is a very interesting attempt, hopefully, and a new attempt,
and we will see what we can do with it.
Fortunately for this first attempt we have with us Brahma Chellaney,
Research Professor at the Center for Policy Research at New Delhi, India.
He is currently project co-ordinator and principal researcher for study
groups on technology and security, and he has a long-term interest in the
future of nuclear deterrence. He has written extensively on India’Äôs
national security strategy, nuclear proliferation, and the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty ’Äì’Äì The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty being one of the five
treaties that the intercollegiate policy debate community is debating about
this year. He is ideally suited, I think, and we are fortunate to have him
with us. The questioners will be Gordon Mitchell, Associate Professor and
Director of Debate at the University of Pittsburgh, where he specializes in
public argument, rhetoric of science, and critical pedagogy. His book,
Strategic Deception: Rhetoric, Science and Politics in Missile Defense
Advocacy, recently won the National Communication Association’Äôs award for
distinguished scholarship in rhetoric and public address. He also has had
work appearing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Fletcher Forum
of World Affairs, and on websites hosted by the Federation of American
Scientists, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, and International Security
Information Service. I will also add that his work, his book and his
scholarship emanated from some of his interests that he got as an
intercollegiate debater as an undergraduate. It has been his initiative
that led to today’Äôs conference call. We have been very fortunate to have
Gordon prodding us along in this effort. Also questioning today will be
Michael Roston, an analyst at the Russian American Nuclear Security
Advisory Council, or RANSAC, an interesting acronym, in Washington, D.C. He
is also an assistant debate coach at George Washington University. He hails
from the city of Chicago and graduated from the University of Iowa, where
he also competed as a debater for four years. Our final questioner is
Patrick Speice. He is a presidential scholar, senior debater, and political
science major at Wake Forest University. He is a member of one of the
nation’Äôs top-ten ranked debate teams and is currently working on the
intercollegiate topic, with the National Debate Tournament coming up next
week where he will be arguing about the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban
Treaty, among the other five treaties. We will go ahead and jump right in
with questions. The order of the questioners today will be first Michael
Roston, then Patrick Speice, and then Gordon Mitchell. These will be the
lead questioners each for fifteen minutes. But it is expected that any of
them can follow up the lead. If things get off tangent and you are the
leader, go ahead and insist on asking your next question, or I will try to
help out as best I can. So we will go ahead and begin the questions with
Thanks a lot Ross, a thanks a lot to Dr. Chellaney, I really appreciate the
opportunity to discuss some of these issues with someone who is involved in
the business that I am involved in and also willing to share some of his
expertise directly with members of the debate community. My questions are
going to focus on some regional questions with regard to the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty and I hope that you will find them to be of interest. The
first question I would like to ask you is that states like Iran and North
Korea have been able to develop significant nuclear capabilities in spite
of the existence of stringent anti-proliferation export control regimes,
especially in terms of limiting the technologies that they have been trying
to get ahold of. We are just two years off now from the approach of the
sixtieth year of the nuclear age and I’Äôm wondering, in your opinion, do you
think that technological or political factors are more important in driving
a country’Äôs decision to go nuclear.
Well, that is an interesting question. My response to that would be that
normally, military technology remains top of the line only for ten,
fifteen, twenty years, but nuclear technology has been the number
technology in the military sphere for nearly six decades now. And that is
rather unusual in terms of the history of technology. In fact, we do not
see any other technology of mass destruction overtaking nuclear weapons as
the technology that the major powers would like to acquire. But now with
the advent of the information age, maybe in the years to come, especially
with the research going on in different fields, including directed energy systems,
lasers, and space-based platforms, that maybe a new mass destruction
technology will emerge. But until it does, there is a strong incentive on
the part of countries that are technologically weaker to acquire nuclear
technology, and there is a political as well as technological incentive for
these countries when they look at the might of countries like the United
States, that are armed with high-tech conventional capability and when they
see what’Äôs happening for example in Iraq today, and if I can bring Iraq
into the picture, I think we need to discuss what impact the Iraq issue
will have on the proliferation pressures that were already evident before
this conflict began, and the question I ask myself is whether Iraq will
accelerate the proliferation pressures.
Michael Roston: It seems unlikely that the United States will severely cut back
its conventional or nuclear capabilities in the near future in any way that
will be substantial, so I am wondering what sort of political factors can
emerge that might minimize the willingness of countries with weaker
technological bases to develop nuclear weapons. Is it a hopeless pursuit,
or do you think there is something that can be done in the absence of the
United States giving up its nuclear arsenal, or scaling down its
Brahma Chellaney: I think the original bargain that allowed the five countries to
keep their nuclear weapons while they worked toward complete nuclear
disarmament, that bargain has fallen by the wayside. And it is very
important for countries that aspire to acquire nuclear weapons technology
that the best way to create disincentives is to ensure that the nuclear
disarmament process is still in motion, that it has not stalled as it has
in recent years. So one would be to get the disarmament process going.
Second would be to ensure that there is regional stability. If there are
regions where there is instability, political tensions, border disputes,
and other problems, that by itself can act as a spur to proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction. So regional stability is going to be an
important driver of a how a country or countries respond to weapons of mass
destruction. The third element is technological. I think that while it is
possible today for a country to build nuclear weapons if it had the legal
freedom, because the NPT really ties down most countries with the
commitment not to pursue nuclear ambitions, so that is quite a constraint.
The flipside of the technological element is that even if a country does desire
to build nuclear weapons, there is a long gestation period required before
it can acquire the infrastructure to build nuclear weapons. It will require
at least five, six, seven, eight years before it can create the
infrastructure to build nuclear weapons. So, nuclear technology, even
though it is an old technology, in practical terms it is not easy to
acquire it overnight. I think that also provides a time-lead on those who
wish to dissuade a country from going down the nuclear route. So these are
the three elements that I think work in terms of deciding whether there are
going to be strong or weak proliferation pressures.
Michael Roston: Does anyone else want to follow up on that line before I move
onto another one?
Gordon Mitchell: Quick follow-up. What would you say would be the most effective
strategy either within, or across those three areas, Professor Chellaney?
Elements one and two are very important ’Äì regional stability and genuine
efforts at international nuclear disarmament. When we have regional
instability and lack of any disarmament progress, then it does create
additional proliferation pressures.
Gordon Mitchell: Do you think the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, would you
categorize that as one of those efforts that might have the world community
move more towards nuclear disarmament?
Brahma Chellaney: It was conceived originally as a disarmament measure, but by the
time it was concluded in 1996, it became essentially a non-proliferation
instrument. In other words, it was intended to help the five declared or
the five NPT nuclear weapons states to keep their nuclear weapons, and
prevent other nations, including those states that have not signed the NPT
from going down the nuclear route. It was a treaty with a very specific
non-proliferation objective, and it is treaty that will go down in history
as a treaty that backfired, that kind of undermined the very objective for
which it was designed.
Michael Roston: The next question I have is going to turn to North Korea. North
Korea has refused to participate in any CTBT-related activities. I believe
they have not attended a single preparation conference activity, they do
not participate in the CTBTO, and on top of that, the North Koreans have
recently made the decision to withdraw from the NPT. Given the stringent
entry-into-force requirements spelled out in the CTBT’Äôs fourteenth article,
the entry-into-force clause, does Pyongyang’Äôs intransigence doom the
treaty’Äôs prospects of full implementation?
Brahma Chellaney: I do not think it is the North Korean intransigence so much that
is holding up the treaty. The CTBT received a fatal blow when the US Senate
rejected its ratification. And at the moment, the treaty is in limbo,
essentially because of the US position. Ironically, it was the United
States, though under a different administration, it was Washington that
really pushed hard for this treaty, and in fact played the lead role in the
completion of this treaty in Geneva. But the present administration in
Washington has completely rejected this treaty and I think there is no hope
in the foreseeable future that this treaty will be revived. The other
aspect about the CTBT is that it kind of forcibly put some countries in
Article XIV, the entry-into-force clause that you were mentioning, India is
one example. It had forewarned before this entry-into-force clause was
drafted, that if its name was mentioned in that clause as one of the
countries whose signature was required before the treaty could come into
force, India would actually veto that treaty draft in Geneva, because
India, as a member of the CD (Conference on Disarmament), had a veto power.
Every member of the CD has a veto power. But just to mock the Indian
threat, eight days later, the entry-into-force clause draft was unveiled
naming India as one of the countries whose signature and ratification was
needed before the CTBT could come into force. And the Indians lived up to
their threat and vetoed the conclusion of the treaty, and the treaty then
had to be taken by the back door to the UN for approval. The North Koreans
were also brought onto this list of countries whose signature and
ratification was needed for the CTBT to come into force. My concern is
that, why was this done? Why was it considered necessary to bring certain
countries on the list? The treaty’Äôs entry-into-force clause should have
merely said that the treaty would take effect as soon as an ’ÄòX’Äô number of
countries had signed and ratified the treaty. But by naming a whole list of
forty-four countries, whose signature and ratification was required, the
treaty gave each of these countries a veto power over the treaty actually
taking effect. So we have a long process along the way for each of these
forty-four countries, required to sign and ratify, and at the moment it
seems like this will be a treaty that never will take effect.
Brahma Chellaney: . . . So we have a long
process along the way for each of these forty-four countries, required to
sign and ratify, and at the moment it seems like this will be a treaty that
never will take effect.
Michael Roston: To follow up on your remarks about how the United States has
dealt a fatal blow to the treaty ’Äì some authors have argued that some of
the holdout states, like China, Iran, Israel, and so forth, take U.S. non-ratification
of the CTBT as an excuse for them not to ratify on their own. If we were in
a world in the future where the U.S. would ratify the treaty, are you of
the opinion that countries like China and Iran and so forth would change
their tune to some degree or is it likely that they would find other
excuses not to ratify the treaty in their own countries?
Brahma Chellaney: That is a very good question. First, I think that certainly they
are using the U.S. reluctance to ratify the treaty as an excuse not to
ratify the treaty themselves, so they are hiding behind the U.S. But if the
U.S. had actually gone ahead and ratified the treaty, it would have put
tremendous pressure on these countries to fall in line. I think that most
would have fallen in line. China would have faced the agonizing issue of
either actually doing a few more tests or ratifying the treaty. I think
that the Chinese are very pleased that they did not need to decide on that
issue and that the Americans bailed them out by rejecting the treaty.
Gordon Mitchell:Professor Chellaney, could you
elaborate on a phrase that you used? You said that United States
ratification of the CTBT would bring "pressure" on China and
other nations to follow suit? What do you mean by "pressure"?
Brahma Chellaney: Had the United States ratified the treaty, it would have
generated a lot of pressure on the holdout states to fall in line, because
each holdout state then would have been in the spotlight in terms of what
it was trying to do on the test ban treaty. But when the U.S. Senate
rejected ratification of the treaty, that by itself meant the death of the
treaty. Other countries, whether it was China, North Korea, Israel or
India, it became irrelevant whether they would sign or ratify the treaty.
Now we are re going to move onto Patrick Speice’Äôs questions. Patrick?
Patrick Speice: If there were pressure on India to ratify the CTBT following US
ratification, what effect would that have on US-Indian relations?
Brahma Chellaney: Well today the test ban treaty is not such a hot political issue
in India. It was some years ago, especially when the treaty was concluded
in 1996. And between 1996 and 1998 when the Indians actually tested five
nuclear warheads, in that intervening two years, India had actually four
different governments that came to office, two of them for very brief
periods. All of these four governments came to the brink of carrying out
nuclear tests. It was the last government that actually did the nuclear
tests. So the CTBT generated a lot of pressure in India to use the closing
window of opportunity and do the nuclear tests ’Äì an issue with which India
grappled with for nearly quarter of a century after having done one test in
1974. So the CTBT really helped to close the debate in India and push the
government to go overtly nuclear. Now that India has actually become a
self-declared nuclear weapons state, and it has done the tests that
scientists wanted to do, the test ban treaty is no longer a sensitive issue
in Indian politics or Indian academic discussion. I think that if the
United States were to reverse its position on the test ban treaty, the
Indians would be willing to at some point sign and ratify the treaty as
long as China was willing to do likewise because if the Chinese were going
to drag their feet, the Indians would drag their feet. So the Indians would
be more looking at China, than what the US position on the treaty would be.
Certainly if the US were to ratify the treaty, then it would force many
countries, including India, to revisit this issue.
Patrick Speice: You mentioned the tests that India conducted in 1998. Are those
tests adequate for India to establish a deterrent posture, given that they
have renounced nuclear first use against any threat? It seems that a
survivable second-strike capability is what would be truly necessary for
deterrence to be effective against Pakistan and especially China.
Brahma Chellaney: Well first there is no pressure from Indian scientists for
permission to do further tests. They were asked to do three different types
of nuclear warheads. They are satisfied; in fact you mentioned they were
satisfied with the results they got in 1998. Unless the government asked
them to do a new type of nuclear warhead, they do not feel the need to test
technology, since they have already done so. Secondly, the pressures that
emanated as a result of CTBT have dissipated and there was an impression in
India in 1996-97, that this was a closing window of opportunity. Now, if
India wants to test again, the fact is that the CTBT is not going to take
effect in any foreseeable future, so there is no closing window of
opportunity. If the Indians wanted to take the risk, wanted to go against
the international tide, they could renew nuclear testing, though it would
actually adversely affect the growing relationship with the United States.
And also, it would make the nuclear issue a hot international issue once
again. But at the moment I do not see any pressure in India for renewed
nuclear testing. Second, I think that the United States has acknowledged,
at least in a de facto manner, that India’Äôs nuclear weapons are there to
stay. The relationship between US and India is progressing rather well in
the strategic area. And in the years to come, these two countries are
actually to be strategic allies. The third thing is, and that this is a
technical element, which one has to recognize, that the Indians did the
tests in the 1990s in the era of information technology. In contrast, the
last American nuclear warhead was designed in the mid to late 1970s on
computers, supposed supercomputers, which are slower than the PCs that you
get in the market today. So the technology really had progressed
tremendously in terms of the simulation between the 1970s and the late
1990s when the Indians had tested. The Indians did all their work on
sophisticated computers. They did the simulation, the cold tests, et
cetera, and are still continuing to work on these systems, based on results
they got from the actual tests in 1998. So they do not feel the need to
test again. And I think that view is echoed throughout the whole Indian
establishment, that there is no need to test any further.
Does anyone have a follow-up that they’Äôd like to add?
Michael Roston: You mentioned that if India were to test again, that that
would have an effect on its relationship with the United States. Do you
think the converse is true? Do you think that if the United States were to
make a decision to go ahead and test nuclear warheads again, that that
would have any positive or negative impact on US-India relations?
Not really. I think many in India expected the Bush administration to at
least test its new earth penetrating nuclear warheads, but the Bush
administration got caught in many other matters: Osama Bin Laden,
Afghanistan, and now Iraq, so the nuclear tests never happened. But if that
test had occurred, the Indian scientific community would have had the
opportunity to ask the government for permission to test one or two nuclear
warheads, if they wanted. But that was the only thing that could have come
up. But I do not think the US tests would have impacted on the bilateral
relationship with India.
Patrick Speice: I think it is interesting that you brought up the position of the
Bush administration. Given the current views of that administration on
multilateralism and treaties in particular, do you think that a US
ratification of the CTBT would be seen as a credible attempt by the
international community to advance multilateral arms control?
Well that is an interesting question. When the Bush team has rejected arms
control, has rejected deterrence, has rejected containment, and espoused a
doctrine of preemption, the theory of compellence, it is trying to reorder
the world. Rather, remake the world in its own image. I think that nobody
expects the Bush administration to do an about face on the test ban treaty.
Even if there was a reversal of the US position on the test ban treaty, it
would require a reversal of the US position on a number of other treaties
or regimes, including the Biological Weapons Convention verification
regime, and the Land Mines Convention, the International Criminal Court,
and many other issues, before the world would think that the Bush administration
has renounced unilateralism and is now espousing or accepting
Patrick Speice: Do you think then, that US plans to build a National Missile
Defense will complicate attempts by the US to bring other nations into the
multilateral non-proliferation regime?
Brahma Chellaney: I think the non-proliferation regime is passing through a
critical time now. Its future is looking quite a bit shaky at the moment,
because of a number of profound developments that have happened or are
happening in the last few years. One is the rejection of arms control and
disarmament by the Bush administration. Two is the rejection of
international treaties that have already been negotiated or in fact have
been concluded. Three is the present approach on Iraq of the Bush
administration. I think these elements together generate a lot of pressures
in terms of promoting nuclear ambitions in countries that already or at
least have quietly aspired to be nuclear at some point in the future.
Certainly these countries are now thinking more intently as to what they
need to do in terms of acquiring nuclear capability.
Do you think that if the US were to announce that it were making the
current moratorium on nuclear testing permanent, that that would be a first
step toward reaffirming the non-proliferation regime, since it is so shaky
Well I think the test ban moratorium even if it were formalized, it can
only be formalized if a test ban treaty takes effect, because a moratorium
is always a temporary step, and a formal permanent arrangement to abjure
testing means a treaty, a legal framework. So either they revive the CTBT
or they negotiate another test ban treaty. But even if that were to happen,
a test ban treaty will allow the existing nuclear weapons states, be it
United States, France, Russia, China or India to keep their nuclear
weapons, while disallowing other nation states from considering any plans
to test a nuclear device,. it will perpetuate, in the eyes of much of the
world, the present system of nuclear apartheid, where some states retain
nuclear weapons, and others have to forego that option. So it will require
much more than just a commitment to a formal test ban.
Patrick Speice: Do you think there is any prospect that China would ratify the
CTBT? Maybe in a world in which the US was to ratify it they would be more
likely to. I was just wondering if you could speak to those prospects.
Brahma Chellaney: I think China is now at a stage where even if the United States
were to magically reverse its stance on CTBT and actually ratify the
treaty, China would still not ratify that treaty simply because they look
at the US missile defense program as a very aggressive and threatening
program, and they have said so in public a number of times, that missile
defense will prompt them to renew nuclear testing, they will have to invest
more in nuclear weaponry and in long-range ballistic missiles. So,
fortunately their position is not an international issue at present,
because the entire focus is on other issues, and they are quite pleased
with the fact that they do not have to be in the spotlight and speak their
opposition to the CTBT. But certainly, China would be a problem state even
if the United States were to reverse its position on the test ban treaty.
All right. We are right on time to begin Gordon Mitchell’Äôs questioning
Gordon Mitchell: Thank you Ross. And if I do not get a chance later, I would like
to express my sincere thanks to Professor Chellaney. It is getting quite
late there in New Delhi and I appreciate you sticking with us. You
mentioned "earth-penetrating" nuclear weapons. One prominent
issue that has been explored in American intercollegiate policy debates on
the CTBT this year has been the role of nuclear testing in development of
such weapons, like the "robust nuclear earth penetrator," a
modification of the conventional B61-11 "bunker buster." Is
further nuclear testing necessary to develop such weapons, and what is your
assessment of the effectiveness of such weapons as tools to counter
Brahma Chellaney: On the first part of your question, I do not think that
technologically, testing would be needed to develop such "earth
penetrating" weaponry, especially since the conventional aspects of
that technology are already proven. The nuclear aspects of such a warhead
would be easy to simulate and develop without an actual test. In any case,
since the purpose of the "earth penetrating" nuclear warhead is
to destroy underground command-and-control facilities, its real test could
occur in actual combat. The second part of your question is the more tricky
part. Could you repeat the second part Gordon, I lost the pattern of what
you said. The second part of your question was what?
Gordon Mitchell: What is your assessment of the effectiveness of such weapons as
tools to counter terrorism?
Brahma Chellaney: On terrorism, I think that such an "earth penetrating"
nuclear warhead does boost the military’Äôs confidence in rooting out the
command-and-control centers of an enemy in the event of war. When you are
fighting terrorism and you are fighting terrorists who are stateless or who
are actually being encouraged or being sponsored by a state, but who are
not really the leaders or the decision-makers of a nation-state, then what
is the utility of an earth-penetrating nuclear warhead? It also raises the
question as to why, at this point in time, so much effort has gone into
developing such an "earth penetrating" nuclear warhead, as well as
the emphasis on "mini-nukes" and "micro-nukes." That is
what I have seen in the last couple of years. The other aspect is that even
with conventional "earth penetrating" bombs, the record has not
been very good, because such conventional "earth penetrating"
warheads have been used, including the one that began the war with Iraq,
the self-advertised "decapitation strike" that did not work. Such
usage has not yielded the desired results, there being so many recent
instances, including the 1999 air war on Yugoslavia and the effort to
topple Milosevic and the effort in the summer of 1998 to kill Osama bin
Laden in Afghanistan. The use of such "earth penetrating"
weaponry did not yield the political results that were desired. I think
that they are not very effective tools to fight terror, even with
Gordon Mitchell: If I could pursue that point a bit further, one of the missions
that has been posited for these types of weapons has been a deterrent
mission, in terms of dissuading potential terrorists from trying to acquire
weapons of mass destruction and build underground bunkers, because the
strategic thinking is, if those bunkers could be destroyed using those
"earth penetrating" weapons then there would be no need to make
the attempt to acquire such WMD materiˆ©l. What is your assessment of this
strategic dimension of the "bunker buster" weapon?
Brahma Chellaney: It is interesting you asked that question because the proponents
of "earth penetrating" nuclear warheads are opponents of
deterrence. And yet when they are forced to argue the merits of their case,
they do at times talk about the value of deterrence. But I do not actually
see how that can aid deterrence, simply because if you are fighting
terrorists, I think the fight against international terrorism will go on
for a long time, because that is a scourge that is not going to be easily
contained, especially in the given circumstances. I believe that to fight
terror will require much more than technological capability or the
enhancement of present technical means. It will require, first and
foremost, greater international consensus and concerted antiterror
operations. What we lack today is an international consensus on how to
fight international terrorism, making distinctions between "good"
terrorism and "bad" terrorism ’Äì that this terrorism is against
them, and this terrorism is against us, we need to fight this terrorism. I
think that is a political divisiveness that is an impediment in the fight
against global terror. It is not the deficiency on the technical side that
is weakening the fight against global terror.
Gordon Mitchell: Here in the United States, we are just starting to come to grips
with our government’Äôs pursuit of a preemptive or preventive military
intervention doctrine laid out in the 2002 National Security Strategy.
First, I would like to ask you to comment on the distinction between
preemptive and preventive military intervention. Do you see that as a
I think the two terms "preventive" and "preemptive"
have been deliberately mixed to mean one and the same, and they are not one
and the same. Preemption is a doctrine that actually puts international law
on its head. It is to preempt a prospect of threat. It is not even to
preempt an existing threat, but to preempt a futuristic threat. I think
that not only goes against international norms and international law. It
raises troubling questions about the modern state order, about to where the
world is headed, so it is not a surprise that the first attempt to
implement that doctrine of preemption, as in the case of Iraq, has
triggered such an international opposition. I think that those who
propounded that doctrine in the report done by the Project on the New
American Century, which became the blueprint for the Bush Administration’Äôs
National Security Strategy, I think they did not factor in the
international reaction to any preemptive strike that the United States
would seek to carry out. Only now they are starting to realize that the
doctrine of preemption comes with very serious international costs.
Gordon Mitchell: Is one of those possible costs what you were talking about
before, in terms of fracturing the consensus on international cooperation
to fight terror?
Brahma Chellaney: Exactly. Thanks to this doctrine of preemption, the global war on
terror has been derailed. Nobody is talking these days about the global
effort to stem terrorism. The debate has been completely overtaken by other
events, and other concerns. What we are ending up with is a situation,
which may actually spur further international terrorism, rather than be
conducive to the containment and compression of international terrorism.
Gordon Mitchell: There is some speculation that the United States posture, the
preventive military intervention posture, could be modeled by other nations
such as Russia, China, and even possibly India. What is your perspective on
this issue, both in terms of whether the doctrine will be modeled, and the
possible security consequences of its adoption by other nations?
Brahma Chellaney: The model that the United States is setting up for other
countries, that model is a very dangerous one, even if other states, at
this point in time, are not considering adopting it. Because even if one state
seeks to implement any of these ideas which are part of the National
Security Strategy report unveiled on September 20, 2002, quite after 9/11,
those ideas are going to destabilize the international environment.
Increasingly, it is becoming clear that if the United States thinks that it
is okay to preempt a prospect of threat, then other countries would be
tempted to preempt existing threats. They could argue that they were only
following the American example and actually try to reinforce their position
by saying that they are being faced with a real and potent threat that
needs to be dealt with. I think that if this conduct gets emulated, then we
are certainly in a more troubled world.
Gordon Mitchell: Do you think the constraints of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test
Ban Treaty would inhibit the development of space-based nuclear pumped
lasers with antisatellite or antiballistic missile capability?
Brahma Chellaney: I do not think the test ban treaty is going to impact the
space-based research program of the United States. But certainly, if the
intent is to put nuclear payloads on space-based platforms, maybe at that
point in time, there may be a need to test those nuclear payloads. But the
entire space-based aspects of technological development can and will
proceed even if the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty were to take
Gordon Mitchell: What about underground nuclear testing to establish the
survivability of space satellites? Is underground nuclear testing needed?
Brahma Chellaney: Against satellites, antisatellite weapons?
Gordon Mitchell: To test the survivability of US satellites against enemy
Brahma Chellaney: I do not get the connection. You are talking of nuclear testing
helping the United States to upgrade its satellite security?
Gordon Mitchell: Correct. "Hardening" of satellites, say for example, to
establish whether the satellite can survive an EMP blast.
Brahma Chellaney: I am not really qualified to answer that question. I have no
expertise on that subject, nor have I researched it. My simple reading of
the situation was that space-based weaponry research would be unaffected by
a deficit of any kind. The programs that we see being researched and
developed right now would proceed uninterrupted even if the CTBT were to
All right. We have about eight minutes left in our allotted time for I
guess what I would call free-for-all, or if anybody has a question that
they would like to jump in with?
While we are on the topic of space. I know that India has been involved in
development of its own space program. In terms of the development of its
own nuclear deterrent, some economists and security thinkers believe that
the development of this kind of advanced military-industrial system, that
you see throughout the United States and Western Europe, will be essential
to India making the transition to be a fully modern economy. Do you think
that this is true, that the pursuit of these kinds of systems, the
development of this kind of technological base, is necessary for India to
solve problems like poverty, or do you think that it actually distracts
India from dealing with a lot of its economic difficulties?
Brahma Chellaney: All of the space research in India is being put to economic use.
Satellite imagery, for example, is being used for agriculture or
forecasting weather patterns; it is being used for public health programs,
and India has been at the forefront of space satellite research activity in
the developing world. India has been able to derive some early benefits
from such technology. Certainly I think there are many in India who believe
that satellite imagery and satellite-related systems would be critical for
India’Äôs economic development. There is a recognition in government and in
academia that satellite systems mean much more than national security.
Michael Roston: To follow up on that, do you think that the pursuit of a stronger
military as well, for trying to establish, for instance, stronger
nuclear-based systems, stronger naval systems, air force, and so forth,
detracts from those efforts or do you believe in some of these thinkers who
believe that an advanced military-industrial capability is necessary for
Brahma Chellaney: India is a democracy and the debates here are endless. There are
all schools of thought in this country. I am telling you what the
mainstream thinking here is, which is that India needs both the military
capability and the economic capability to be an important country in the world.
After all, India is one-sixth of the human race and there is a strong
feeling here that India’Äôs current voice in the world does not come any way
near its actual size, and that India really has to enlarge its strategic
space internationally, so that it has a role to play proportionate to its
size. The mainstream thinking is that India has to focus both on being
secure and prosperous because the two aspects feed on each other. You
cannot be prosperous unless you can be secure, that is unless you can safeguard
your prosperity. And unless you are prosperous, you cannot generate the
money to develop militarily. So the focus here, even in terms of policy, is
both on economic and military development.
Patrick, do you have one last question? We have about three minutes.
Patrick Speice: To go back to when Gordon was asking questions about "earth
penetrating" weapons, it seems that the focus was a bit on their
application in antiterrorism, and I was wondering if you thought there were
any benefits to those weapons in other contexts?
Brahma Chellaney: Certainly, "earth penetrating" weapons potentially
could be useful in conflicts between states, and that targeting
command-and-control centers and targeting leadership is perceived to be an
instrumental aspect of war. Certainly, a country with "earth
penetrating" capability would be in an advantageous position against a
rival that lacked such a capability, because the only way that you can
build secure command-and-control centers would be to build them underground.
That is the thinking in the world. But if underground structures are going
to be vulnerable to a missile strike, then certainly the country that is
able to do that ’Äì strike an underground command-and-control post ’Äì would
put themselves militarily in a much stronger position.
Ross Smith: Speaking
of rivals, we have not heard the word Pakistan this entire time and was
wondering if you had any comment on what seems as if it is daily or weekly
provocations, including missile firings, and underground bunkers and
nuclear weapons regarding Pakistan.
Brahma Chellaney: Well the Pakistan thing is also tied up to terrorism, because Al
Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, and Pakistan, these are all
things that go together because, as you know, the single, top Taliban
leader, and the top Al Qaeda leader, the really top Al Qaeda leadership, is
still intact. And the entire Taliban leadership, along with Al Qaeda
elements, which are supposed to be holed up somewhere in Pakistan. Pakistan
also is a nuclear-armed state. It is a hotbed of Islamic extremism; it is
India’Äôs neighbor, closest ally of China, which is also an adversary of
India. So certainly, when you look at Pakistan, you look at a state that is
really troubled, it is a state which is broadly recognized as a failing
state. Any reading of the situation in Pakistan does not at the moment
encourage any optimism because the trend in Pakistan in the last fifteen
years and more has been toward greater extremism. I think that the war in
Afghanistan and the war in Iraq are unlikely to reverse that trend.
We are at the end of the hour. I would like to thank everybody, Professor
Chellaney especially. I hope this has been useful and encouraged a lot more
Gordon Mitchell: Thank you very much for moderating Ross.