India and the ARF:The Post-Pokhran II Phase

Udai Bhanu Singh, Research Fellow, IDSA


India and Southeast Asia have re-emerged on the global and regional scene in a way that cannot be ignored. India began to make its presence felt with its "Look East Policy" and its policy of liberalisation. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) too began acknowledging India's new status and was accomodated as a dialogue partner in the charmed circle of "miracle economies". The magic of the 'miracle' began to wear off as the currency crisis began to strike each of these economies one by one. Even before these states could recover from the shock of the economic crisis, New Delhi tested its bombs in Pokhran. Quite imperceptibly, the dynamics of security and economics had begun to unfold. What impact these developments have had on India's links with the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and its participation in it, is the subject of this paper.

The ARF meetings are held between the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) and the Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC), when ASEAN members confer with dialogue partners.1 The fifth ARF was held at Manila on July 27, 1998. It was chaired by Philippines Foreign Secretary Domingo L. Siazon.

Importance of the ARF

The ARF is the most important security forum in the Asia-Pacific. Therein lies its strategic significance. It is important for economic reasons as well. ASEAN which was formed 31 years ago is now faced with a new kind of security threat from the financial crisis which has shaken the countries of the region to their roots. If security is viewed in a holistic manner, then the role of the ARF in solving the economic crisis can be better appreciated. The ambit of ARF discussions cannot be limited to politico-military security alone; other challenges such as those relating to the environment, natural disasters and economic crises are emerging as new security threats. The ARF also provides a sound base for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). It includes states with ASEAN's population of over 400 million and the ARF's over 3 billion. It complements bilateral relations and relations at the Track Two level. The Council for Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) is a process parallel to the ARF process and deals with security issues. It supports the ARF with inputs. Suggestions originating here are followed up at the ARF level. The Chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee maintains the link between Track One and Track Two activities. The ARF combines the advantages of the official or governmental methods of functioning with the informal or non-governmental ones. It is a forum meant for creating a more predictable pattern of relations among states with interest in the region. In the ASEAN way of doing things, it is considered important to increase comfort levels and promote a feeling of community through dialogue and consultation. One such confidence building measure has been the issuing of Defence White Papers by some of the ARF members. For instance, China recently issued a new White Paper on its national defence.2 By doing so, it was able to score a point regarding its commitment to maintaining peace and stability. India, on the other hand, has till date not issued any Defence White Paper though it does regularly publish an annual Defence Report. If New Delhi's demand for transparency in security matters is to have greater credibility, it must issue a Defence White Paper at the earliest.

Nuclear Testing by India and Pakistan

India conducted five nuclear tests on May 11 and 13, 1998. Thereby, it is deemed to have gathered enough data for it to go in for computer simulation. Pakistan conducted tests on May 28 and 30, 1998. The President of the Security Council in a statement condemned India on May 14 and Pakistan in a statement on May 29.3 The Security Council condemned the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan in a resolution.4 The five permanent members of the Security Council also issued a Joint Communique on the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests.5 At other levels also India encountered criticism. The CSCAP issued a statement critical of India but New Delhi was able to preempt the Pugwash Conference from issuing a critical statement.

The ARF was the first multilateral conference in which India declared its nuclear weapon power credentials. New Delhi sought to elaborate its nuclear doctrine at the ARF which was attended by major powers such as the US, China, Russia, Japan and Australia. Earlier India had opposed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT ) on the ground that it gave Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) an unfair advantage in terms of a headstart in nuclear weapons testing.6 As Jaswant Singh pointed out: "The two basic tenets of India's nuclear strategic thought are that India's, indeed the entire world's, national security interests are best [served] through a global, nondiscriminatory disarmament. In the absence of that, a second tenet is equal and legitimate security for all."7

Reaction of ASEAN

The two countries which took a hardline posture vis a vis India were the Philippines and Thailand. The then President of the Philippines, Fidel Ramos said India's tests could spark a regional arms race and asked India's neighbours to exercise restraint. He said: "I am concerned at the effects of these tests on peace and stability in South Asia and their implication on global security." Before the ARF convened, the Philippines Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said that ASEAN would ask both India and Pakistan to put the "nuclear genie back into the bottle"8 Japan and the Philippines sought to condemn India and Pakistan for their nuclear tests and to internationalise Indo-Pak differences. The Thai Foreign Minister, Surin Pitsuwan expressed concern at India's tests and said his country would like to see the region free of nuclear weapons.9 The Thai Deputy Foreign Minister, Sukhumbhand Paribatra said both countries must pursue confidence building measures and urged both to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the CTBT. Malaysia criticised India's underground tests. Its Foreign Minister also deplored Pakistan's blasts saying it was a further setback to keep the region free of nuclear weapons.

The joint communique issued at the end of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) said: "The foreign ministers deplored the series of nuclear tests conducted recently in South Asia that exacerbated tension in the region and raised the spectre of a nuclear arms race." Some countries had wanted "condemned to be used." But ultimately the communique used "deplored." It also called for the parties concerned:

* to sign the NPT and CTBT unconditionally.

* to refrain from weaponisation and transfer of nuclear weapon technology to third countries.

* to resolve their disputes and security concerns through peaceful dialogue.

The Pakistani Dimension

Manila as the host of the ARF meeting wanted to invite Pakistan, perhaps at the behest of some dialogue partners like Japan, USA and Australia. Since ASEAN decisions are taken by consensus, and because of India's successful lobbying against Pakistan's participation as the "guest" of the Philippines, on June 18, 1998, the Chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee announced that ASEAN would not insist on Pakistan's participation as an ad-hoc member or as a guest.10

For one thing, Pakistan is not a full dialogue partner (it is only a sectoral-dialogue partner) and its presence at the ARF meeting would have been quite irregular. Secondly, the ARF is not the appropriate forum for raising bilateral disputes. India insisted on resumption of talks with Pakistan in a bilateral framework rather than in a multilateral forum. Thirdly, it is ironic that at the time that India was seeking dialogue member status, some ASEAN states had argued that if India is included, then Pakistan would also ask to be included and then ASEAN would get bogged down by South Asian disputes. Fourthly, the fact that Pakistan had conducted a few nuclear tests did not automatically make it eligible for full dialogue partner status and ARF membership. If it is admitted that Pakistan is not adequately qualified to be ASEAN's dialogue partner, why should it be allowed to be represented at the ARF which in any case is not a forum designed to sit in judgement over the action of its members. By its very nature, it is meant to promote confidence among members so that it creates an environment favourable for cooperation in international actions. Fifthly, it would set a very wrong precedent because disputes do keep occurring among members. The ARF would then get bogged down in internal bickering and not be able to do the work it was designed to do.

Theoretically, Pakistan could well become a member of ARF. It is already half-way there, being a sectoral-dialogue partner. Once it is accepted as a full-dialogue partner its path to becoming an ARF member would be cleared. To become a full dialogue partner, a country requires not only a certain level of economic development and stability but also a degree of regional goodwill and support. Supposing it is able to clear these two hurdles, then New Delhi could be faced with the prospect of having to argue bilateral disputes in this multilateral forum. However, as things stand at the moment, ASEAN support for Pakistan's dialogue status has not been very forthcoming. From the Indian standpoint, it is sufficient to stress that Pakistan is not suitably qualified in terms of the economic criteria laid down by ASEAN itself to be a full dialogue partner. However, if and when it reaches the required status New Delhi should have no objection to Pakistan's membership of the ARF.

In the present circumstances, New Delhi can ill afford to play ostrich to the multilateralisation of bilateral issues by Islamabad. It has to be prepared to argue its case at yet another forum. In any case, Pakistan continues its activities against India unabated in the form of: (a) Low intensity conflict/proxy war in Kashmir through militants and mercenaries; (b) Support to several non governmental organisations indulging in propaganda warfare against India; (c) Information warfare through dissemination of factually erroneous information on Kashmir on the Internet. In this Information Age an unprincipled denial of a forum to a state could at best provide a temporary respite. It can not provide a lasting solution. The affected state could take recourse to some other forum such as web sites on the internet. In the mean time, we need to convince each and every ASEAN member and dialogue partner about the correctness of our position.

The Indian Response

India has been at the forefront of the campaign for total elimination of nuclear weapons for five decades.11 But, "In the absence of universal and non-discriminatory disarmament, we cannot accept a regime that creates an arbitrary division between nuclear haves and have nots. India believes that it is the sovereign right of every nation to make a judgement regarding its supreme national interests and exercise its sovereign choice. We subscribe to the principle of equal and legitimate security interests of nations and consider it a sovereign right."12 Perhaps it bears reiteration that India did not violate any international agreement when it conducted the nuclear tests in May. India is not a signatory to either the NPT or CTBT and the question of its having violated any international agreement does not arise. India regards the NPT as a discriminatory treaty, especially after its indefinite extension in 1995. India is willing to negotiate on the Fissile Materials Control Treaty (FMCT). India is also prepared to adhere to the CTBT within a year.

In order to explain its position India was represented at the ARF by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Jaswant Singh. Indian diplomacy succeeded in softening the blow of criticism against the tests at the ARF. India's warning that it would dissociate itself from any statement which mentioned it by name had the desired effect. Prior to the ARF the AMM issued the final communique worded in a subdued manner. It called on New Delhi and Islamabad to adhere to—rather than sign—the CTBT and NPT. And by calling on the five NWS to work towards disarmament, it established a linkage between India's tests and the failure of the Big Five to disarm.13 The wording of the draft of the ARF chairman's statement was similarly tempered to change "condemn" for "grave concern" and "strongly deplore"; India (or for that matter, Pakistan) was not mentioned by name and the spirit of consensus was preserved. The Chairman's statement also called on the five nuclear weapons states to strive for achieving the ultimate objective of eliminating nuclear weapons.14 As it emerged, some of the dialogue partners had sought to condemn India, while the overwhelming ASEAN view was that the multilateral forum should not be used for denouncing participants. As India's Minister of State for External Affairs observed: "At the recently held PMC and ARF meetings, we found in ASEAN an echo of our concern for complete and general nuclear disarmament. The ASEAN has understood our 'right aim' in conducting nuclear tests and has been assured about our not posing any threat to it or to regional peace and security."15

While our diplomatic efforts may have yielded agreeable results it does raise some fundamental questions regarding the role of the ARF. The nascent security forum appears to have been misused to pronounce judgement on India's nuclear tests. Doesn't it run contrary to the principles and objectives of the ARF, as enunciated in the ARF Concept Paper?16 The ARF was formed as a forum for dialogue, not for sitting in judgement on members. If it does so it could be creating problems for itself in the future. The major objective of ARF is to develop "a more predictable and constructive pattern of relations for the Asia-Pacific region". It should seek to enhance trust and confidence amongst the participants and foster an environment conducive to maintaining peace and prosperity of the region. For this, a gradual and evolutionary approach is recommended. The ARF Concept Paper lists three stages:

Stage I: Promotion of Confidence-Building Measures;

Stage-II: Development of Preventive Diplomacy Mechanisms; and

Stage-III: Development of Conflict-Resolution Mechanisms.

The "original sin" is that clear-cut stages have been given in the Concept Paper. The three phases were meant to be implemented sequentially, not simultaneously. In the beginning perhaps it would be better for the preventive diplomacy and conflict-resolution mechanisms to be evolved through Track Two processes (for instance, the Indonesia sponsored workshops on the South China Sea). Preventive diplomacy does imply voluntarism. It is only to be expected that any mechanism which is perceived to be intrusive would not get the members' wholehearted support. Moreover, it is significant that the Concept Paper says clearly that it did not seek to establish mechanisms of conflict resolution in the immediate future—it is only an eventual goal.

In keeping with the informal setting of the banquet on July 28, 1998, which concluded the ARF meeting, the Indian delegation produced a skit explaining the nuclear tests in May. One line in the song went, "Why such a fuss over a few crackers in the Thar...They weren't as loud as Nevada and Lop Nor", mentioning the sites of the Indian, US and Chinese tests respectively.17

A balanced response to events based on a uniform criterion is expected from a security forum dealing with issues critical to the region. There is a precedent of nuclear testing by other Powers in the recent past. The 1995 AMM in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei had ended with a communique issued on July 31 in which: "The foreign ministers deplored the resumption or planned resumption of nuclear tests in the Asia-Pacific." But it had failed to name France.18

Reactions of Dialogue Partners

Three (China, Russia and USA) of the Permanent Members of the Security Council (P-5) are ASEAN Dialogue Partners. Given Chinese nuclear help to Pakistan, the P-5 countries are themselves the greatest proliferators and have resisted all attempts to progress towards universal nuclear disarmament. It may be recalled that India's attempts earlier to declare nuclear weapons (in the manner of chemical and biological weapons) illegal through a resolution, were opposed by countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand who are now in the forefront of the campaign against the tests by India. In fact, it is these double standards and the fear of nuclear blackmail which convinced New Delhi of the need for a nuclear deterrent.


In a sharp response to India's tests, Australia condemned India and recalled its High Commissioner to India, Rob Laurie for consultations. Prime Minister John Howard referred to the Indian tests as "an ill-judged step."19 Australia threatened sanctions and a halt to all development assistance. It may be recalled that Australia had severed defence ties with France over its nuclear tests in the Pacific in 1995 and 1996. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the Australian government regarded the tests "as beyond the pale of international behaviour."20 India retaliated by rejecting Australia's request for naval exercises.


China's criticism of India began on a mild note on May 12 and became more virulent as the days progressed. On May 12 a Foreign Ministry spokesman said: "India's conducting of nuclear test runs against international trend and is detrimental to peace and stability in the South Asian region." On June 3, the Chinese President Jiang Zemin accused India of targetting both China and Pakistan and denied that China had helped Pakistan make the bomb. Later, China wanted India to accede to NPT and CTBT.

At the ARF, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Tang Jiaxuan in his opening statement on July 27 noted that, "destabilizing factors have apparently increased in the Asia-Pacific: India and then Pakistan conducted nuclear tests, plunging South Asia into a sudden wave of tension."21

European Union

The European Union was represented by Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel. He said: "The EU reiterates its call to India and Pakistan to refrain from any nuclear tests, to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty."22


Japan is a major non-nuclear regional power with interests in South East Asia and India. It has been the largest aid donor to India since 1986. On the bilateral plane, Indo-Japanese relations took a nosedive when its Foreign Minister Obuchi Keizo summoned India's ambassador in Tokyo to demand that India discontinue developing nuclear weapons immediately. It decided to partially freeze roughly $1 billion a year loans to New Delhi.

New Zealand

New Zealand recalled its envoy from New Delhi and together with Australia and Canada was considering further sanctions, including a halt to all development assistance. It may be recalled in this context that when India applied for membership of the ARF, New Zealand had expressed its misgivings. It was feared that it would burden the yet fledgling ARF with subcontinental issues.23

United States

The US represented by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had relatively mild criticism to offer. Albright asked India and Pakistan to "adhere to the CTBT without conditions" and avoid producing fissile material for nuclear weapons "pending conclusion of a treaty to halt such production permanently." Regarding Kashmir she asked for resumption of "high level dialogue" between India and Pakistan.

The Indo-US dialogue intensified in the post-Pokhran phase. Jaswant Singh had already had three rounds of talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott which in the opinion of Albright "had been able to cover substantial grounds." Mr Jaswant Singh had bilateral talks in Manila with Albright who was accompanied by a couple of members of Talbott's team.

In her intervention at the ARF, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright referring to the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests said: "While both nations have legitimate security concerns, neither faced an imminent threat that could justify the far greater danger we all now face." The US position was that their goal was not to fix the blame but to point the way to stability, security and peace. She said: "Our purpose is not to isolate either country. On the contrary: we have been trying to deepen our partnership with them in recent years."

She went on to say: "We ask India and Pakistan to adhere to the CTBT without conditions. We ask that they not produce fissile material for nuclear weapons pending conclusion of a treaty to halt such production permanently. We ask that they not deploy nuclear weapons or missiles capable of carrying them. We ask that they commit to effective means of controlling exports of dangerous weapons, materials and technologies."

In the post-Pokhran II period the Indian leadership unveiled its nuclear doctrine in bits and pieces at various fora; there were a few brief official pronouncements as well. In August Strobe Talbott and Jaswant Singh met in Washington for the fourth round of talks. Then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee attended the SAARC Summit in Colombo. He also went for the nonaligned meet in South Africa. He later addressed the UN General Assembly in New York. One striking element of India's nuclear doctrine was its explicit formulation on South East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ).

South East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

India informed ASEAN that it respects the status of SEANWFZ and would be willing to convert this assurance into a de jure obligation. Besides, it was also willing to consider adhering to the Second Protocol of ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.24 India is of the firm belief that multipolarity and democratisation at the regional and global level would ensure peace and security in the world.

Looking back, it was in 1994 at the 27th AMM that the Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas reminded other ASEAN members that it was high time for the ASEAN to materialise the idea of the Zone of Peace Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) and SEANWFZ.25 Nuclear weapon free zones are areas in which the production and/or stationing of nuclear weapons are prohibited by agreement between states of the zone.

The SEANWFZ Treaty was concluded in Bangkok on December 15,1995 by all ten South East Asian countries (which included the then seven ASEAN Members, and Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar). It covers the territories of all ten South East Asian states and their respective continental shelves and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). The signatory states undertake not to develop, manufacture, acquire, possess, or have control over nuclear weapons; station or transport them or test or use them.26 The ambiguous wording of the Treaty about the transport of nuclear weapons appears to imply that States may transport nuclear weapons but they may not have control over them.27 The United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Convention provides nuclear-powered ships with the same navigational rights as other ships.28 Besides, the US does not believe in disclosing whether its ships carry nuclear weapons or not.

The ASEAN states had hoped to persuade the five NWS to sign the protocol to the treaty. China is concerned about the implication the treaty has to its claims in the South China Sea. The treaty refers to the 200-mile EEZ and continental shelves which includes much of the South China Sea. The US also expressed its inability to sign the protocol.

The fifth ARF was notable for the openness and frankness with which issues were discussed. The Thai Foreign Minister, Surin Pitsuwan sought to make ASEAN abandon its age-old policy of non-interference in each other's internal affairs. Only the Philippines supported Surin's idea of "flexible engagement'. Both Singapore and Malaysia vehemently derided the idea; a compromise in the shape of "enhanced interaction" was finally worked out. This option implies freedom to raise issues which have a bearing on other countries (such as economic crisis, forest fires and refugee problem).29 US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asked for an open ASEAN economy which is more responsive to the global market.

Compatibility of India's Nuclear Status with Growing Indo-ASEAN Interaction

The Pokhran-II tests will not come in the way of closer interaction between India and ASEAN. A relationship among nations built on solid foundations can be expected to withstand such jolts. It is significant that there are no outstanding territorial disputes between India and the South East Asian states. Ideological differences were responsible for keeping India and ASEAN apart during the Cold War period. India was thought to be close to the Soviet Union and ASEAN to the United States. The one major difference in approach had been on the Cambodia issue from 1979 to 1990. Now that too is history following Vietnam's withdrawal of forces from Cambodia. Vietnam, a stronghold of communism is now member of ASEAN. Growing ties between USA and China were tangentially responsible in the first place for the adoption of the concept of ZOPFAN. Washington's minuet with Beijing and the threat of American withdrawal from the region have raised concerns about security in ASEAN capitals. In such a situation, it is not difficult to visualise a scenario when countries of the region (ie. ASEAN and those physically close to China) would come to accept India's nuclear weapon status as a stabilizing factor in international politics. ASEAN, currently is too preoccupied with its economic crisis to assess the full impact of South Asian developments.

Continued Relevance of ARF for India

One complaint some people had against the ARF was that it is all "Arf bite." Suddenly, some members want ARF to have teeth. Some members sought to put India on the defensive for its tests. But this criticism levelled by some of the dialogue partners can not seriously force India out of the forum. It is argued that this year we managed to scrape through with an indirect criticism (India was not named) and the criticism could get more strident in subsequent years. India can and must face all sort of criticism and rebut all lies at multilateral fora—and this includes the possibility of Pakistan's inclusion in the ARF at some future date and its inclination to bring with it the whole gamut of Kashmir question. It must be remembered that a policy of isolation would never benefit India. It became clear from ARF Chairman Siazon's own statement that non-ASEAN members were instrumental in trying to condemn India, while ASEAN maintained that the ARF should not be converted into a forum for denouncing ARF participants.30

This is the time for us to reaffirm our friendship with these states as they are going through a severe economic crisis and not to turn our backs on them. We have kept away from our neighbours in the East in the past—to our detriment. Let us not repeat our mistakes all over again. Even if some sort of a "deal" is worked out with the United States it would be sheer folly to alienate these states to our East who still have tremendous goodwill for India. It would amount to a reversal of our "Look East " policy—something we just cannot afford to do given our stage of economic and political development.

Multilateral organisations/fora are important not only in themselves, but also because they cement the bonds at the bilateral level. Continuous interaction at the multilateral level helps foster the spirit of cooperation so essential at the bilateral level. But it is argued that a discordant note struck at the multilateral level is equally capable of vitiating the atmospherics on the bilateral plane. To that the only reply is—let us not underestimate the strength of our diplomacy. If we have managed to hold our own in the immediate aftermath of Pokhran-II, surely we can be better prepared next year and thereafter. We must set our own global agenda if we do not want to be dictated to by others. We managed to emerge "relatively unscathed" from the fifth ARF meeting because of the solid support of ASEAN members like Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos and Vietnam.31 India can afford to be neither arrogant nor timid. It has to learn to walk the (Buddhist) middle path.

Table 1. The ARF Sessions








  • Chaired by Thai Foreign Minister Prasong Soonsiri
  • It agreed to hold the ARF meeting on an annual basis.
  • Endorsed the principles and purposes of the Treaty of Amity & Cooperation.

  • Welcomed the US-DPRK negotiation.



Bandar Seri Begawan

  • Vietnam joins as member; Cambodia as Observer.

  • China now willing to discuss South China Sea dispute multilaterally.
  • Call for exchanging defence information; increasing dialogue on security issues; maintaining contact at military institution level; contributing to the UN Conventional Arms register;
  • Three inter-sessional groups formed-on Confidence- building, peacekeeping operations, maritime search and rescue.
  • Concept Paper with three stages: CBMs, preventive diplomacy, and conflict resolution mechanisms.




  • India and Myanmar join as members making 21 members.

  • Welcomed end to nuclear testing in the South Pacific
  • Elimination of anti-personnel mines
  • South China Sea
  • Security in the Korean peninsula



Kuala Lumpur

  • Myanmar
  • Peaceful solution to Cambodia's problem




  • Nuclear tests in India and Pakistan
  • Thailand proposes "flexible engagement" but gets only "enhanced interaction."


July 1999


  • Scheduled

Table 2. Major Multilateral Treaties Signed by Southeast Asian States (ASEAN & Cambodia)







Brunei S

Darussalam R









Cambodia S









Indonesia S









Laos S











Malaysia S









Myanmar S



















Singapore S










Thailand S









Vietnam S



14.06.82 (A)




20.06.80 (A)


Table 3. Major Multilateral Treaties Signed by ARF Dialogue Partners






Australia S










Canada S









China S



09.03.92 (A)






15.11.84 (A)

European Union





India S








Japan S











Korea S













New ZealandS









Russia S



















A: Accession

R: Ratification

S: Signature

Bold: One of 44 countries whose ratification is thought necessary for Entry-into-Force

CWC: Chemical Weapons Convention

BWC: Biological Weapons Convention

ASEAN Chronology

1991 Indian policy of economic liberalisation (under Narasimha Rao's leadership) gave a boost to India's "Look East" policy. India begins to reactivate links with SEA.

1992 India becomes sectoral dialogue partner

Indian PM's visit to Indonesia

ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea

1993 Indian PM visit to Thailand

March 16 & 17 Sectoral dialogue inaugurated at New Delhi, with the Indian side led by External Affairs Minister Dinesh Singh.

June The CSCAP is founded

1994 Indian PM's visit to Vietnam and Singapore

July 25 First ARF session, held in Bangkok


August 1 Second ARF session, held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

December 14&15 Fifth ASEAN Summit in Bangkok

December India graduates to the level of dialogue partner


July China conducts its 45th nuclear test estimated between 1-5 kilotons

July 23 Third ARF session, held in Jakarta: India attends for first time


July: Fourth ARF session, held in Kuala Lumpur


April 28-29 India-ASEAN official level talks in Singapore on how best India can offer help in the region's economic crisis

June: Minister of State for External Affairs, Ms Vasundhara Raje leaves on visit to Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines to counter the negative fall-out of India's nuclear tests.

July 27: Fifth ARF at Manila, Philippines



1. The ARF members include the nine ASEAN members: Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; the two observer States, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea; and the eleven dialogue partners are Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, the United States and the European Union.

2. See MV Rappai, 'China's Defence White Paper', Strategic Analysis, September 1998.

3. S/PRST/1998/17, dt. May 29, 1998, and S/PRST/1998/12, dt. May 14, 1998.

4. S/RES/1172 (1998).

5. SC/6527, June 5, 1998.

6. "Thailand's plea to India, Pak," Hindu, July 11, 1998.

7. Far Eastern Economic Review, August 6, 1998.

8. "ASEAN wants India to roll back n-programme," Hindu, July 14, 1998.

9. Cited in Strategic Digest, July 1998.

10. Ibid.

11. Jasjit Singh, "Nuclear Diplomacy", in Jasjit Singh,ed., Nuclear India, (New Delhi: Knowledge World, 1998)

12. Paper laid on the table of the House on Evolution of India's Nuclear Policy, Government of India. Reproduced in Strategic Digest, July 1998.

13. "Manila Manoeuvres," Times of India, July 28, 1998.

14. "ASEAN limits lobbying by China, US: Draft statement 'deplores' N-tests," Times of India, July 28, 1998.

15. Statement by Minister of State for External Affairs, Smt. Vasundhara Raje, on theoccasion of the 4th Indo-Asean Eminent Persons Lecture Series, August 1998.

16. See "The ASEAN Regional Forum: A Concept Paper," Bandar Seri Begawan, August 1, 1995.

17. New Straits Times, July 30, 1998.

18. 'ASEAN fails to cite France in Assailing Tests,' International Herald Tribune, July 31, 1995. Also see 'ASEAN deplores nuclear testing,' Pioneer, July 31, 1995.

19. The Times, May 13, 1998.

20. BBC News, May 13, 1998.

21. Refer,

22. Badrul Hisham Mahzan, "Firm commitment for peace and solidarity achieved at ARF," New Straits Times, July 28, 1998.

23. For New Zealand's perspective, see Stuart McMillan, "ARF: The Search for Security," Strategic Analysis, July 1998.

24. Statement by Minister of State for External Affairs, Smt. Vasundhara Raje, on the occasion of the 4th Indo-Asean Eminent Persons Lecture Series, August 1998.

25. "FM Ali Alatas,: It is high time for Zopfan, Seanwfz," Indonesia Times, July 23, 1994.

26. For text of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone refer:

27. Article 3 of the Treaty stipulates that:

1. Each State Party undertakes not to, anywhere inside or outsidethe Zone:

(a) develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons;

(b) station or transport nuclear weapons by any means; or

(c) test or use nuclear weapons.

2. Furthermore, each State Party also undertakes not to allow, in its territory, any other State to:

(a) develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons;

(b) station nuclear weapons; or

(c) test or use nuclear weapons.

28. The Third UNCLOS which began its work in December 1973 ended on 10 December 1982, with a Convention on the Law of the Sea. This was signed that very day by 119 states including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei did so on December 5, 1984. The Philippines ratified it on May 8, 1984 and Indonesia on February 1986. Other ratifications followed making its entry into force possible.

29. Frank Ching, "Asean At a Crossroads," Far Eastern Economic Review, August 13, 1998.

30. M.D. Nalapat, "ASEAN limits lobbying by China, US: Draft statement 'deplores' N-tests," Times of India, July 28, 1998.

31. C. Raja Mohan, "India's gains from the ARF meet," Hindu, July 29, 1998.