Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chemical Weapons: India's Forgotten Armaments - Windows Live

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    • India’s chemical-weapons record holds key lessons
    • Brahma Chellaney
    • Rather than first eliminate its puny, militarily insignificant CW stocks before becoming party to the CWC, India’s penchant to take the moral high ground, whatever the price, found expression in its ratifying the treaty ahead of its regional adversaries, and then rushing to meet the pact’s 10-year deadline for stockpile destruction. It incinerated most of its CWs by the 2007 deadline, even as the other possessor states had set protracted timeframes for stockpile destruction. While the US and Russia sought and got five-year deadline extensions in 2007, India asked for only two years’ more time, fully completing its dismantlement in March 2009. Meeting deadlines took precedence over guaranteeing environmentally safe and sound destruction, with secrecy the leitmotif even in dismantlement. The government’s fiat to the DRDO was to meet the deadlines, come what may.


      But India hasn’t earned international respect from such faithful, speedy compliance. Indeed, like in the nuclear realm, India has been left to blow its own trumpet about its “impeccable” credentials. Far from gaining any reward, India has little clout in The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), where no Indian has yet held a top-management position. Worse still, Indian taxpayers have had to pick up the tab for international verification of stockpile destruction, with the obliteration bill surpassing the CW production expenses several fold. Pakistan and China, by contrast, have come out better.

    • The writer is professor, Centre for Policy Research.

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