Daily News

May 18, 1998
Afternoon Transmission

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 India.
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 States.
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 tests.

Dr. Kalam dispelled all doubts on whether one of the blasts was a thermonuclear blast or in common parlance, a hydrogen bomb.

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 capabilities.

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.