[EXCERPTS] THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 11, 1998 PRESS BRIEFING BY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER, CHAIRMAN OF THE ECONOMIC COUNCIL GENE SPERLING, AND DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS JIM STEINBERG The Briefing Room 2:50 P.M. EDT .............. Q Tell us what the danger is, as the United States sees it, is in India's conducting these nuclear tests. MR. BERGER: We are deeply disappointed by India's decision to test nuclear weapons, at least by its own announcement. Our position has been very clear. We have urged countries to exercise restraint in the testing of nuclear weapons -- either countries that are declared nuclear powers, or countries that are not. We have ourselves, along with the other five declared nuclear states, stopped nuclear testing. We have signed the CTBT. And we think this is an unfortunate development. Q Is this because of India's historical fear of Pakistan? Is that what is driving these tests? MR. BERGER: Well, there are always regional contexts in which arms races take place, but in our judgment we do not think that that justifies this step. Q How about the missiles testing? MR. BERGER: We would like to see restraint on the part of India and on the part of Pakistan both with respect to its nuclear weapons programs and with respect to its ballistic missile programs. Q There was no forewarning? Have you had an indication -- MR. BERGER: We have made known to the Indians -- we have made it quite clear to the Indians that we would strongly urge them not to undertake such a test. Q Their response? Might they now draw back and not do the test? MR. BERGER: Well, we would hope that they would not undertake any further tests, and we would hope that this would not provoke a new round of escalation. Q How about sanctions? MR. BERGER: There are U.S. laws that operate in this field that apply to so-called non-declared nuclear states. We will examine those laws very carefully in the context of the reported actions today and we will obviously enforce our laws. Q You said just now reported actions, you said, at least by its own announcement. Is there any doubt on the part of the U.S. government that they did, indeed, test three nuclear weapons? MR. BERGER: We don't have any independent confirmation as of this point of it, David, but they have so stated. We have no reason to believe that they haven't. Q You mentioned the arms race. Is that what this is now? Is there now an arms race between -- MR. BERGER: There has been in South Asia and in the larger region a dynamic of proliferation that has gone on for over 20 years. This didn't start today. We have tried over the years, as have previous administrations, to urge restraint. In some cases, we have been successful, in some cases we haven't. We will continue to work toward that goal. Q Does India's decision put at risk the President's plans to travel to India? MR. BERGER: We have no plans -- we don't plan to change our plans. That's poor grammar. Our plans remain unchanged. I think it remains important, Susan, that we continue our dialogue with Pakistan, with India. There is an enormous amount -- India, for example, and the United States are the two largest democracies in the world. There is an enormous amount of common interests that we have. But I think we have a better chance at de-escalating or at least slowing these kinds of actions if we remain engaged than if we don't. Q Mr. Berger, you mentioned that would enforce U.S. laws, but is the U.S. considering any further sanctions against India, other than -- MR. BERGER: There are laws that pertain to these kinds of matters, some of which do involve sanctions. No determination has been made. We are reviewing those laws to determine what the facts are, what the law is, and whether the law applies to these facts.