USIS Washington 

13 May 1998


(Defense secretary calls for broad display of disapproval) (650)

By Ralph Dannheisser

USIA Congressional Correspondent

Washington -- India's action in detonating five nuclear test blasts in
the past two days could produce "a chain reaction of other countries
following suit" unless it is met with broad-based sanctions, Secretary
of Defense William Cohen warned May 13.

Stressing the need for a worldwide show of disapproval, Cohen declared
that if only the United States and a few other nations react, "the
impact would be marginal and the political effect would be negligible.

"We need to bring to bear all of the political will, not only in this
country, but on the part of our allies," the secretary said.

Cohen made his comments in an appearance before the Senate
Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on defense, shortly after
President Clinton spelled out the United States' own plans to impose
tough sanctions on India, including a ban on all U.S. assistance other
than humanitarian aid.

Asked by Senator Richard Shelby (Republican, Alabama) whether he had
been surprised by India's action, Cohen replied that "it did come as a
surprise," after Indian officials had made "a number of
statements...(that were) misleading."

Shelby, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has charged a
failure of intelligence gathering by U.S. agencies and has scheduled
hearings on the issue starting May 14.

In the wake of the Indian tests, "there'll be pressure on Pakistan (to
follow suit). There'll be other countries who see this as an open
invitation to acquire the technology" to produce nuclear weapons of
their own, Cohen told the subcommittee.

"We have a real proliferation problem globally, and this is only going
to make that worse," he said.

When Senator Tom Harkin (Democrat, Iowa) said the new development
makes it even more urgent to "push ahead on a comprehensive test ban
treaty (CTBT)," Cohen replied, "I agree with you... We ought to
accelerate our effort." The secretary described himself as "a strong
believer" in quick approval of the CTBT.

On another issue, financing of the continuing U.S. military presence
in Bosnia, Senator Ted Stevens (Republican, Alaska), the subcommittee
chairman, questioned the continuing use of so-called emergency funds
for the purpose.

Noting that fiscal year 1999 would be the fifth year of U.S.
involvement there, he said the Clinton administration should now
request such funds as straightforward budget items.

"We cannot treat the missions for which we're planning to stay for
many years as annual emergencies," Stevens said.

Senator Pete Domenici (Republican, New Mexico), a subcommittee member
who also chairs the Senate Budget Committee, added that a continuing
series of emergency funding requests "is making a mockery of the caps"
set by Congress and the administration on defense and other spending.

Cohen defended the U.S. role in Bosnia, if not the funding mechanism,
citing the "demonstrable change for the better as a result of our
having been there." He acknowledged that, while he had earlier hoped
for completion of the U.S. role there by the end of June, the
continuing involvement "no longer can be called an emergency."

Thus, he said, costs would have to be budgeted in the next fiscal

On other questions, raised by Senator Arlen Specter (Republican,
Pennsylvania), Cohen said:

-- He sees no indication that NATO enlargement to include Poland,
Hungary and the Czech Republic -- recently approved by the Senate --
would contribute to the rise of radical elements in Russia. "My
personal judgment is that the expansion will not contribute to
radicals coming to power," he said.

-- Neither he, nor anyone at his direction, has tried to determine
whether the Clinton administration's proposal for Israel to turn over
another 13 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians would
compromise Israel's security. "I have not made an independent analysis
with respect to Israel's security," he said.