Tuesday, March 29, 2005

How Many Balls, Bowling Pins, and Double-Bladed Axes Can We Juggle at Once? 

And isn't it nice to know that Condoleezza Rice is the clown in the center ring? One!
Indian newspapers and analysts warned Monday that a US decision to sell F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan could sow new distrust with Islamabad, and affect a fragile peace process between the nuclear rivals.

President Bush agreed Friday to sell the combat planes to Pakistan in a major policy shift to reward its key ally in the war against terrorism.
The United States has offered to New Delhi F-18 aircraft, with a license to manufacture them in India, civilian nuclear energy and cooperation in the field of space technology.

Under the new agreement, announced hours after Washington said it was selling F-16s to Pakistan, the US administration also offered to help India increase its missile defense and early warning systems.

Commenting on the U.S. offer, defense analysts in India said New Delhi should not worry too much about the F-16 sale to Pakistan because what Washington is offering to India is more substantial and of a strategic nature.
Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh on Monday accused the world’s superpowers of turning a blind eye to nuclear commerce in South Asia, saying it was having an “adverse impact” on his country’s security and on global peace.

Singh’s comments come ahead of a May conference in New York called to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which bans the transfer of nuclear weapons and the technology to make them.

Singh did not name rival Pakistan but made it clear that recent disclosures of proliferation from the neighbouring country was one of the reasons India is staying away from the nuclear treaty.
Since May 1998 when both India and Pakistan tested their nuclear devices, there have been "several near misses" that could have led to a nuclear war, warns retired Indian naval chief Adm. L. Ramdas.

"Although we both have survived almost seven years of our existence as nuclear nations, believe me we have had several near misses," the retired Indian admiral told a Wednesday afternoon news conference in Washington.

Senior U.S. officials -- such as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor Colin Powell -- also have acknowledged on several occasions that Washington avoided at least one war, and a possible nuclear conflict, between India and Pakistan in the summer of 2002. Both countries had deployed almost a million troops along their border after a December 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-backed terrorist groups . . . .

Although both India and Pakistan say that it was the "nuclear deterrence" that prevented them from going to war in 1999 and 2002, some experts disagree. "In both 1999 and 2002, we demonstrated that nuclear-armed nations could also go to war," said Pervez Hoodbhoy, Pakistan's most prominent anti-nuclear lobbyist who has a doctorate in nuclear physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but opposes nuclear weapons. "Had the international community not intervened, the tensions could have resulted in a war with horrible consequences for the entire region."

Ramdas agreed. But instead of asking India and Pakistan to disarm, he said nuclear weapons are a global concern and the entire international community should act together to deal with this issue. "Why don't the world powers denuclearize first?" he asked.

As many as 44 nations had the potential to acquire nuclear weapons but they were not doing so because they had not yet taken "the political decision to go nuclear," Ramdas said. Quoting Japanese sources, he added even Japan was a potential nuclear state.

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