May 18, 1998
Pakistan has decided to conduct a nuclear test.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan told AFP yesterday that the date
for the nuclear test will be decided later. The Cabinet has already approved
the proposal. The statement came after failure of talks between Pakistan
and a high-powered US mission sent by President Bill Clinton in a bid to
dissuade Islamabad from exploding a nuclear device.
Meanwhile Pakistan Foreign Secretary, Mr. Shamshad
Ahmed, arrived in Beijing last night on a sudden visit to have crucial
talks with Chinese officials in the wake of India carrying out a series
of nuclear tests. Sources said during his brief stay, Mr. Ahmed is expected
to meet Chinese Foreign Minister, Mr. Tang Jiaxuan and senior officials.
The visit assumes significance as Mr. Ahmed had earlier attended a top-level
meeting, chaired by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff, which decided
to conduct a nuclear test in response to India's multiple tests. Reports
indicate that China might play a key role in Islamabad's decision to test
its own nuclear device.
The Clinton administration has renewed its call to Pakistan
to desist from conducting a nuclear test. It has also warned that the ensuing
sanctions would have a more severe impact on Islamabad than on India. Reacting
to the statement of Pakistan Foreign Minister, Gohar Ayub Khan that Islamabad
will carry out a nuclear test, US national security adviser Sandy Berger
said he would hope that the Pakistan Government would consider this very
seriously and not test in its own national security interest. He warned
that a nuclear test by Pakistan would invite US sanctions like those against
Former US President, Mr. Jimmy Carter has criticised Washington's
outrage over India nuclear tests. In a speech at Hartford last night, he
said the United States is in a weak position to criticise India's nuclear
tests in light of Washington's refusal to reduce its own nuclear arsenal.
The former President said that the US policy on nuclear weapons and landmines
smacks of hypocrisy. He said this is corroborated by the non-ratification
of the CTBT and the strategic arms reduction treaty, Start 2, by the United
India's ambassador to Washington, Mr. Naresh Chandra has
denied that New Delhi misled the United States about its nuclear programme.
Talking to reporters in Washington, he said, the Indian side has been having
a strategic dialogue with its friends in the US and the exercise of the
nuclear option is non-negotiable.
In response to a question, how India will respond
if Pakistan were to detonate a nuclear weapon, Mr. Chandra said it is upto
Islamabad to decide what its security needs are. Our tests should not be
viewed as aimed at Pakistan, he added.
Meanwhile, the US has said that no decision has
been taken to change President Clinton's planned visit to India.
The scientific advisor to the Defence Minister Dr. A.P.J.
Abdul Kalam has said India is now self-reliant in terms of nuclear weapons
technology and there is no problem in evolving any number of nuclear warheads
that it requires.
After the successful conduct of the serial nuclear
tests last week, it was for the scientists to place their points of views
before the nation today. A huge gathering of presspersons collected at
National press centre in New Delhi to hear the background story of the
Dr. Kalam dispelled all doubts on whether one
of the blasts was a thermonuclear blast or in common parlance, a hydrogen
The Atomic energy commission Chairman Dr. R. Chidambaram
made it clear that the fissile material used came from within the country.
The Prime Minister has assured the international community that the
recent nuclear tests by India will in no way deviate from its policy of
pursuing peace. Opening the Amritha institute of medical sciences and research
centre at Edapally, Kerala today, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee said that the
test was counducted after careful and proper appraisal of the regional
security environment. He said the tests will help India emerge as a nuclear
weapon state. He said nation is surrounded any countries having nuclear
The Congress President, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, has said that Government
must evolve a consensus on the nuclear issue.
The BJP has denied reports that the party wanted to take political advantage
of the recent nuclear tests and go for Mid-Term polls. The party General
Secretary Mr. Venktaiah Naidu said the tests were conducted taking into
account the national security.
The Group of eight industrialised nations has urged India to sign the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The British Prime Minister told newsmen
in Birmingham that India's siging of CTBT will make it clear to the world
that the country is still committed to nuclear non-proliferation. As reported
the summit did not go in for joint sanctions against India as there was
no consensus in the Group.
A German disarament expert says, the adverse reaction by the western
countries to India nuclear tests smacks of hypocrisy. The expert Mr. Holger
May, says, the arguement that this would cause instability in the region
is baseless. Participating in a panel discussion in Bonn, he said that
the tests signal a farewell to the illusion that nuclear power be restricted
to a club of five countries for ever.
The London Times says, there was no better way for India to demonstrate
her national sovereignty than by raising the nuclear stakes. The paper
says, the developed countries should take the Indian Government at its
words that the tests had brought it closer to signing the CTBT as
it will commit India to not doing any such test in future.
The Russian official media has also supported India's nuclear tests
saying that like any other nuclear country, India also enjoyed the right.
The Washington Times has reported that American sanctions against India
are likely to inflict only modest economic punishment.