ions – work towards evolving Standard Operating Procedures
Littoral countries in the Indian Ocean region have decided to work to address immediate and emerging challenges in the form of Piracy, Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR). The recent meeting of the 35-member Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in Cape Town, South Africa, decided to farm out the task of preparing concept papers for three countries — Australia on anti-piracy, Singapore on MDA and India on HADR.
- The papers are expected to be prepared in six months and after consideration, the IONS will work towards evolving Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Australia was selected to prepare the paper on piracy as it is part of the international coalition that operates in the Gulf of Aden region. In the absence of a U.N.-led Force that New Delhi advocates, the Indian Navy operates under its own flag. Only since the beginning of this year, it is coordinating patrolling schedules with China and Japan. In the backdrop of the Kochi-incident that led to the killing of two Indian fishermen, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma underscored need to have an SOP in order to avoid recurrence of such tragic incidents and clear guidelines for merchant vessels that transit through the Exclusive Economic Zones. In
- fact, India also took the opportunity to flag an issue related to piracy and is not happy that the waters closer to Indian shores in the Arabian Sea continue to be identified as a high risk area for piracy. The label has led to international insurance companies levying higher premium, which is detrimental to merchant ships that transit through these waters. The Indian Navy also suggested that the zones of piracy be demarcated clearly.
- The IONS has not yet cleared the decks to grant observer status being sought by countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, even as Iran has raised objection to the clause in the Charter that is vet to be ratified.
-The CHM Conuindrum
The CTBTO celebrates
- The CTBTO celebrates its 15th birthday this year and has come a long way in establishing its formidable verification system, the Comprehensive Nuclear-TestBan Treaty (CTBT) has yet to become global law. There are actually 337 CTBTO stations in the world, but only 250 or so have been internationally certified. So there is still some way to go before the level of confidence in the verification procedures can be considered adequate. It may also be noted that the CTBT’ does not bar virtual tests undertaken through computer simulations. With rapid advances in computing power and sophisticated software, the actual testing of a nuclear device may not be necessary to either improve existing weapons or assemble a modest but workable nuclear arsenal.
- 1 5th Birthday This Year
- There is also the possibility of a fully tested design of a nuclear weapon or even an actual device being transferred clandestinely from a nuclear weapon state to a non-nuclear weapon one. This is what China did with respect to Pakistan in the late 1980s. The CTBT and the CTBTO provide no ‘answer to such challenges.
- There are eight countries that have yet to ratify the CTBT for it to become global law – China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Israel, Iran, Pakistan and the United States. The holdouts themselves are motivated by different factors. India, Pakistan and North Korea have neither signed nor ratified the CTBT. It would be fair to say that Pakistan’s calculations are influenced by what India does. In
- 1999, Pakistan and India committed themselves bilaterally to a moratorium on nuclear testing. India’s calculations are similarly conditioned by what China . does and China is unlikely to become a party unless the U.S. does.
- India has declared that it would be unable to sign and ratify the CTBT as it currently formulated, but will continue its voluntary and unilateral moratorium on further testing. At one point, India had also declared that it would not stand in the way of the CTBT coming into force, but that would require an amendment to the treaty’s unusual provision that it will come into force only if it has been signed and ratified by all the 44 nuclear-capable states, including India. India is the only nuclear weapon state to declare that it believes its security would be enhanced, not diminished, in a world free of nuclear weapons.