6 February 2004
The Times of India
India could have helped pressure Pak: Talbott
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
NEW DELHI: This will probably raise eyebrows here, but the Clinton administration's point man for India following the 1998 nuclear tests believes New Delhi's failure to follow US advice on export controls robbed Washington of the "leverage" it needed to crack down on Pakistan's nuclear proliferation activities.
Against the backdrop of A Q Khan's mea culpa on PTV on Wednesday night, Strobe Talbott, former deputy secretary of state, told The Times of India that the US had all along been "very aware that Pakistan was a major problem on proliferation on the supply and demand side".
"We made loads of representations to Nawaz Sharif and then Musharraf on A Q Khan. We knew the problem was there... We knew where the Ghauri came from, where all the magical equipment at Kahuta came from".
Describing the contents of his lengthy dialogue with Jaswant Singh, who was external affairs minister at the time, Talbott said, "One of the reasons we pushed export control benchmarks with India was not because we were worried India would proliferate. We wanted Pakistan to tighten up. You know the perverse dynamics of the subcontinent: you do Pokhran, they do Chaghai. So we thought there could be a benign version too. India signs the CTBT and agrees to export controls; and then Pakistan follows."
Talbott strenuously denied the Clinton administration had been complacent about the threat posed by Pakistan's proliferation. "Four years later, a lot of new information has come out. But no one who was involved in the Clinton administration's policies at the time is surprised.
"We certainly knew about A Q Khan's links to North Korea, his trips elsewhere. This was no surprise and what we were looking for was leverage. India could have given us the leverage if it had moved on the export control benchmarks. But it didn't. Finally, 9/11 gave the US leverage by bringing regime change right on Pakistan's western borders. I think Pakistan has begun to do the right thing on proliferation now."