03 August, 2021

India In A Diplomatic Soup

India In A Diplomatic Soup

THE Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations in Geneva are over. India has formally blocked the consensus in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). How the declared nuclear powers proceed from here is unclear. Will they take the Ramaker text to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), with a "friend of the treaty" such as Australia tabling a resolution which will be put to the vote, or will they let the CTBT die? We shall soon know, of course, but as the endgame is played out, it is worth reflecting on India's diplomacy on this issue, past, present, and future.

The first thing that needs to be said is that the triumphalism being trumpeted about by Indian officials and commentators notwithstanding, our diplomacy has looked wretched. Consider the following sequence. In 1993, New Delhi co-sponsored the UN resolution for a CTBT and a fissile material cut-off treaty. At the time, however, Indian calculations privately were that both treaties were remote possibilities and therefore it was safe to play along—this being revealed by a senior Indian diplomat at a...

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