14 May 1998
(U.S. says tests raise risk of proliferation) (530) By Wendy Lubetkin USIA European Correspondent Geneva -- Member states of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) reacted angrily to India's series of nuclear tests at the first plenary meeting of the CD's spring session May 14. Ambassador Robert Grey, Jr., the U.S. representative to the CD, deplored the tests carried out by India May 11 and 13, saying they have created "a serious international security situation." "India's nuclear weapon tests flout the international norm against nuclear test explosions which is embodied in the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), now signed by 149 countries," he said. "These tests raised the risk of further nuclear and missile proliferation in South Asia." Grey also deplored the CD's failure to hold a special plenary session May 13 to discuss India's tests on an urgent basis. "This sets a negative precedent and further erodes the CD's ability to function credibly as an effective multilateral disarmament forum," he said. Grey read for the record President Clinton's May 12 statement in which the president called on India "to announce that it will conduct no further tests, and that it will sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty now and without conditions." In the same statement, the president also urged India's neighbors "not to follow down the path of a dangerous arms race." Grey then listed the sanctions -- announced by the White House press secretary May 13 -- that the United States will impose on India. These include termination of foreign aid other than for food or other agricultural commodities; termination of sales of defense articles, services or designs; denial of any credit or other financial assistance by any branch of the U.S. government; termination of all foreign military financing, and U.S. opposition to loans or credits to India by any international financial institution. Other states addressing the CD May 14 also specified sanctions their governments plan to impose on India in response to the tests. India's Ambassador Savitri Kunadi read a short statement noting that "after a voluntary restraint maintained for 24 years," India "successfully conducted three simultaneous underground nuclear tests," on May 11 and two more on May 13. "In undertaking these tests, India has not violated any international obligations or undertakings," she said, adding that the decision to test was based on "due consideration of our national security requirements." Norway, Austria, Australia, the Netherlands and other countries addressing the CD May 14 urged other countries in the region to show restraint in their response. Netherlands Ambassador Frank Majoor expressed the "hope that South Asia will not become entangled in a dangerous arms race" and called in particular upon Pakistan to show restraint and not to follow the Indian example. Pakistan's Ambassador Munir Akram said the Indian tests constitute "a direct and most serious challenge to Pakistan's security." In a speech which did not rule out the possibility that Pakistan might also conduct a nuclear weapons test, Akram added, "It is Pakistan alone which will decide on and take the measures required to guarantee our security."