Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee reaffirmed that "subject to its supreme national interests" India "will continue its voluntary moratorium until the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) comes into effect." The joint statement with President Clinton also reiterated that the Indian government would "continue efforts" to create a national consensus on the CTBT, in order to bring the discussions "to a successful conclusion." India also stated its commitment "not to block entry into force of the Treaty." The statement echoed the Prime Minister's assertion in a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 14, that India did not wish to "unravel" Washington's non-proliferation efforts. Mr. Vajpayee has attempted to shift Washington's focus on dangers emanating from South Asia, from non-proliferation to terrorism.
His statements offered further evidence that New Delhi is distancing itself from last year's hawkish Draft Nuclear Doctrine. Prior to the Prime Minister's visit the Indian defense ministry emphatically denied press reports that stated that India had decided to produce 300 nuclear-capable, short-range Prithvi missiles, calling the reports "incorrect and baseless."
There remains a tension between New Delhi's eagerness to assuage U.S. non-proliferation concerns and its domestic political imperatives. Vajpayee wants to build on the rapport established by President Clinton's visit to the region. India's newfound confidence in Washington, engendered by the Clinton's trip, suggests that New Delhi will be loathe to unduly upset the United States any time soon. At the White House dinner, the President asserted that he and Vajpayee "have built the strongest, the most mature partnership that India and America have ever known." Domestically, this "new" relationship has been hailed. Still, the government remains sensitive to the potential of being seen as giving in to U.S. pressure on non-proliferation.
Thus, India's weaponization continues, albeit at a slow-motion pace. While the Prime Minister told the U.S. Congress that India "understands" U.S. concerns, on his return home, Mr. Vajpayee declared that India would not accept any terms on the Test Ban Treaty that would limit its independence in strategic matters. He allayed Indian concerns that he was pressured on the CTBT issue, saying "these doubts had no foundation and there is no change in our stand.'' While asserting that India would "continue efforts" to develop a consensus on CTBT, domestically, both the press and the opposition have criticized his government for not beginning a public discourse on nuclear policy. In the U.S. the Prime Minister pledged "support for a global treaty to halt the production of fissile material for weapons purposes." According to earlier Indian press reports, New Delhi rejected a U.S. suggestions for a voluntary moratorium on fissile material production.