Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 127

In a message sent to Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Russian President Boris Yeltsin yesterday urged India to sign both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. “The whole world would welcome the accession of your country to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This problem must be solved,” Yeltsin said. He reportedly also included proposals aimed at resolving differences between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. He reiterated that Russia considers India a close friend. Yeltsin is scheduled to visit India for talks with Vajpayee in December. (Itar-Tass, July 1)

Moscow has joined other world powers in condemning India, along with Pakistan, for the underground nuclear tests that the two South Asian countries conducted in May. Indeed, there had been some hope in the West that Moscow, which enjoys friendly relations with New Delhi, might be able to convince Indian leaders to step back from the brink of a potential nuclear arms race in Asia. But, formal protests aside, Russia has done little to impress on India its belief that the issue is a grave one. Moscow was among the most vocal opponents of international sanctions against India in the immediate aftermath of the tests.

Since then, moreover, Moscow has initialed an agreement that calls for Russia to construct a nuclear power plant in India and has made clear its intention to follow through on several major arms deals with that country. The United States criticized Moscow for the power plant deal on the grounds that the deal undermined international resolve to punish New Delhi for its nuclear tests. But Moscow was clearly more interested both in the money it could earn–estimated at approximately US$2.6 billion–and in further strengthening its ties to New Delhi. It dismissed the American criticism. (See Monitor, June 23-24)