May 15, 1998
The Prime Minister says, India will use its nuclear capability only in self-defence declaring that the nuclear tests are not directed against any country. Mr.Atal Behari Vajpayee also urged the countries which imposed sanctions against New Delhi for conducting nuclear tests to reconsider their decision. He was addressing BJP workers at his residence in New Delhi today. Explaining the circumstances in which his government had to take the decision to conduct the tests, Mr.Vajpayee said the security environment around the country has deteriorated and new weapons are being stockpiled in our neighbourhood. He said India believes in the policy of live and let live and these tests have been conducted only to ensure that the country's sovereignty is not threatened. The Prime Minister asserted that it is not a partisan issue and sought cooperation from all political parties in facing the challenges arising out of the sanctions.
Regretting that the international community failed to prevent nuclear nations from stockpiling these arms, Mr.Vajpayee said India has been continuously demanding that these countries stop conducting nuclear tests, but nobody heeded it. He said unless the nuclear nations stop manufacture of nuclear arms voluntarily, some countries will have to find their own ways to face the situation.
At the United Nations, India's Ambassador said that New Delhi is committed to a nuclear weapon free world. Mr.Kamlesh Sharma told Mr.Kofi Annan that India will take part constructively in negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty.
Several U.S. Congressmen have stressed the need for keeping the bilateral dialogue intact to limit damage to the Indo-US relations from the fallout of nuclear tests by India. They were speaking at the Annual Congressional Luncheon, sponsored by the Indian American Forum for political Education at Washington last night. The Congressmen, who are friends of India, promised to muster requisite legislative support to waive the US sanctions imposed on India.
A high level U.S.delegation arrived in Islamabad today to convince Pakistan not to detonate its own nuclear device following tests by India. The team led by Deputy Secretary of state, Mr.Strobe Talbott includes Anthony Zinni, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, and Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderfurth. Pakistan has been under sanctions from the United States since 1990 when the U.S. administration cut off 650 million dollars worth of military and humanitarian aid saying Pakistan had a nuclear bomb.
Canada has warned Pakistan not to carry out Nuclear tests. The Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Mr.Herb Gray said in Ottawa that the High Commissioner in Islamabad has already told the Pakistan Government not to take any provocative step.
The Annual Summit of the World's top industrial nations, G-8 begins in Birmingham, England later today. The G-8 response to the nuclear tests by India is likely to dominate the deliberations. US President Bill Clinton is expected to use the Summit to press stronger international action against India. Measures to deal with Asia's financial crisis, the growing unrest in Indonesia and other trade issues are also likely to figure prominently in the talks.
The big powers are deeply divided over punitive economic sanctions against India. While the US has already put in a package of sanctions and Japan has taken stringent measures to cut its aid, France, Britain and Russia have so far only responded with muted protests.
India will lose about 560 crore rupees of bilateral assistance from the United States under different aid programmes as a consequence of the economic sanctions imposed. The figures released by the office of the Press Secretary to the White House in Washington, shows that the impact of the sanctions is less than the cost of a major power plant. A perusal of the figures obtained by AIR also reveals that the impact of the sanctions may become heavy only if the USA convinces the G-8 Summit, now on in Birmingham, England to oppose loans to India from international financial agencies.
Former Defence Minister, Mr.Mulayam Singh Yadav says the present government is under US pressure and may sign the CTBT. Mr.Yadav told a press conference in New Delhi today that it was a wrong move on the part of the Prime Minister to write to USA that Pakistan and China were the provocations for India's nuclear exercise. Mr.Yadav said that instead of encouraging the world to react negatively against India, the Prime Minister should categorically refuse to sign the CTBT.
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India has launched diplomatic efforts to muster the support of the non-aligned and developing countries on the nuclear tests. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has directed the Minister of State for External Affairs, Mrs. Vasundhara Raje to rush to Colombia for the NAM ministerial meeting and brief to member countries on India's geo-political concerns, which prompted it to carry out the nuclear tests. Mrs. Raje had earlier explained to the G-15 countries at the Cairo summit that the Indian nuclear tests were not aimed against anyone and these were conducted keeping in mind the environment in the region.
New Delhi is also in touch with other countries to explain its stand on the tests. An External Affairs Ministry spokesman hoped that they will view things from New Delhi's point of view.
India is also keenly watching the G-8 summit, beginning at Birmingham, today. The Indian Ambassador in Washington Mr. Naresh Chandra told an American TV network that New Delhi's nuclear tests were not aimed at gaining the status of a great power. But it was dictated by strategic considerations of a more permanent nature.
India has strongly denied China's charge of triggering an arms race in South Asia by conducting nuclear tests and rejected Beijing's advocacy of New Delhi's policies in the region as hegemonistic. Indian Ambassador to China Vijay K. Nambiar said in Beijing there was no intention on India's part to enter into any kind of arms race not only in South Asia but in other regions also.
The United Nations Security Council has urged India to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without delay and without conditions. In a consensus presidential statement the Council while condemning the nuclear test also asked India to refrain from any further tests. The world body without naming Pakistan urged the countries in the region to exercise maximum restraint to prevent an escalation of nuclear arms race.
Britain has recalled its High Commissioner in India Sir David Gore Booth for consultations. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has indicated that a coordinated response to New Delhi's nuclear tests is in the offing in today's crucial G-8 summit in Birmingham.
Japanese Ambassador in New Delhi has described India as a friend of Japan and the sanctions imposed should not be seen as an overreaction. Talking to our correspondent, the Ambassador clarified that Japan will not stop aid to ongoing projects in India. Justifying the steps taken by his country, he said Japan is strongly committed to nuclear non-proliferation and India should recognise it.
The American sanctions against India have come in for criticism by the media, some Senators and business community in the US itself. The Washington Times has said the Clinton Administration is misguided in imposing sanctions against India. The paper said, it is wrong to describe the tests as an affront to the CTBT as New Delhi is not a signatory to it. A Republican Senator John Ashcroft said President Clinton overlooked a series of nuclear incidents involving China and went for favourable diplomatic and trade relationships with the Chinese. Criticising the sanctions against India, he described them as one sided. The US business leaders are of the view that the sanctions could hurt American companies more than India. Many American Corporations having interests in India are adopting a cautious approach.
In what amounts to negating US sanctions, three major international power companies from the US, Australia, China have offered to set up mega power projects in the country.
The power companies initiated negotiations with the Government knowing that they will not have the backing of their respective Governments for investments in this country.
The top executives of Southern Electric Corporation of the US China Power Investment Corporation and Broken Hill Properties of Australia met the Power Minister Rangarajan Kumarmangalam and sought to take up power projects with capacities ranging from 1500, 10,000 MW each. Stating this at a press conference in New Delhi, Power Minister, Kumarmangalam denied reports that multi-lateral funding agencies are withdrawing assistance from the Power sector following sanctions by the United States, Japan and some other countries.
The Reserve Bank of India is also closely monitoring the situation arising out of the fall of rupee against International currencies following the sanctions. Senior Reserve Bank officials have said the rupee would continue to be stable against the US dollar despite the sanctions. The rupee had slipped to an all time low of 40.70 rupees yesterday against the US dollar, but later recovered to 40.50. The RBI expects a substantial increase in the flow of funds from the NRIs.
The Public sector banks have expressed confidence that industrial recovery in the country will not be affected. Some banks feel that sanctions will have only a minimal impact.
The government is hopeful of reaching a settlement today on the nurses demands as their strike enters the 11th day today. The Union Health Minister, Mr. Dalit Ezhilmalai said in New Delhi last night that he is hopeful of clinching the issue positively by today after the final clearance from the Ministry of Finance. He said the government has formulated a third package of proposals with utmost caution to ensure that it does not fall through like the previous proposals.
The spiritual head of the Tibetan community, the Dalal Lama urged New Delhi not to succumb to pressure by developed nations to halt the nuclear programme. The Nobel laureate said in Madison USA that, with the tests, India has proved that it is no longer an underdeveloped nations.
The Chief of the Russain Communist party Mr. Cennady Ztganov has lauded India on the issue. Mr. Zyganov called India a great power with which the world has to reckon with.
Moscow says it has a very cautious attitude on Economic sanctions as in its view they do not always prove to be productive. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Moscow that Russia's stand on Nuclear tests by India remains unchanged. He was reacting to yesterday's tests at Pokhran. The spokesman laid stress on distinguishing nuclear weapons from the means of their launching.
Pakistan says, it will keep the door open for talks with India dispite Nuclear tests by New Delhi. The Foreign office spokesman told newspersons after cabinet meeting in Islamabad that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief's initiative for resolving outstanding disputes with India through negotations remains a splank of our Foreign policy.
India is in touch with all countries to explain its stand on the Nuclear tests. An External Affairs Ministry spokesman told newsmen in New Delhi that these countries are aware on Indian GEO strategic concerns and hoped that they will view things from our point of view.
Share values rebounded on the stock markets yesterday and the BSE sensitive index stock markets yesterday and the BSE senstive index rose by 155 points. The increase followed hectic support from domestic funds and re-entry of foreign funds, which made sizeable exposures in late trading and the sanctions imposed by the United States and Japan failed to have an adverse impact on the market.