DoD News Briefing

Thursday, May 14, 1998 - 2:15 p.m. (EDT)
Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)


Q: The India nuclear tests, now that there's been a little time passed since those explosions, can you tell us anything about what these five nuclear tests tell us about India's capability, how far along the program is, what type of weapons it appears that India is trying to develop?

A: I don't think it's worthwhile for me to get into that. India has spoken about its own nuclear program. They're the best source of information on it. We're continuing to evaluate the information we have gotten and will continue to get.

As you know, there's a general intelligence overview taking place under Admiral Jeremiah now of events leading up to these tests, but for now I think we need to wait and complete some of the analysis we're doing.

Q: What about the prospect of Pakistan possibly having its own test in the next couple of days, perhaps weeks. Are you in a position to monitor that?

A: Yes. We are in a position to monitor any activity that takes place in that area, but we've made it very clear that we hope Pakistan will forego nuclear tests and take a positive and bold step to reduce tensions in the Indian subcontinent rather than to increase tensions as India has done.

As you know, Deputy Secretary of State Talbott and General Zinni are on their way to Pakistan. They're supposed to arrive this evening to make that case personally to Pakistani officials.

Q: Are there any signs on the ground that Pakistan is preparing to conduct a test?

A: I think you've been able to read what Pakistani officials have said in the press, and I'll just leave it at that.

Q: article that says that the Indians have tested small atomic devices that could be missile mounted or artillery propelled, etc. Can you make any comments, all the way up to hydrogen type fusion devices. Can you make any comment about the utility of what was tested?

A: I think that's a clever way of asking the same question I didn't answer from Jamie. The fact of the matter is that what they've done is destabilizing on the Indian subcontinent. Any development of a nuclear weapon by India or Pakistan is going to increase the arms race. I think we're already seeing that that's happening and we believe will make the area less stable rather than more stable. Less peaceful rather than more peaceful. We think this is going in the wrong direction. We've been very clear about that.

Q: Is there any indication that production and possible deployment of these types of weapons was tested?

A: If you look at both India and Pakistan, it's clear that they're working on delivery vehicles as well as things to deliver. I think I'll just leave it at that.

Q: Do you have any evidence or any idea who has aided the Indians over the years in their nuclear program? Russia? Has the U.S. given any aid?

A: I don't believe we have. I'll have to check further on exactly where the...

Q: As far as Russian aid?

A: I didn't say that. I'll have to check further the facts on that.

Q: A logistical question on General Zinni in Pakistan. How long do you expect them to remain in country?

A: I think they're going to be there a relatively short time, a day or two at most.

Q: Why is General Zinni part of that group?

A: First of all, General Zinni has been to Pakistan a number of times. He is a military officer who is responsible for that area of the world in our organization of commands, is well known to officials, military officials in Pakistan. He's developed a good relationship with his counterparts there. I also think he will be able to discuss the military implications of an unbridled arms race in that area of the world. So he's going there because he has contacts, because he's interested, and because he's knowledgeable.

Q: Will there be any discussions on F-16s with the Pakistanis as a way to help them, encourage them to not...

A: The President has made it clear that he thinks that the Pakistanis should be repaid for the money that they've already invested in the F-16s they didn't get. The law makes it impossible for us to provide the F-16s now, and if they go ahead with a nuclear test I think there will be even less congressional support for helping to resolve this F-16 problem with Pakistan.