Date:  19980515





TELE. No. (202)619-6511


Friday, May 15, 1998


Deputy Secretary Talbott's mission to Islamabad prompted foreign analysts to focus on whether Pakistan will explode its own bomb in response to India's nuclear tests--perhaps as early as this weekend, as some reports indicate. Observers conveyed U.S. pessimism that Mr. Talbott would "succeed in pulling Pakistan back from the brink." Pakistani dailies differed in their advice to their government. Articles in the centrist News and the center-right Nation urged Islamabad to wrest "cast-iron nuclear umbrella guarantees against the Indian threat" and economic benefits in "compensation" for its promise of restraint. Other editorials in the News, on the other hand, stressed "deepening" Pakistani "distrust" of the U.S. and called for a nuclear test as an answer to the "hostile nuclear triangle--Israel, India and U.S.--that engulfs the entire Muslim world." With condemnation of the Indian actions still strong in available commentary, Indian writers toned down their earlier fervent endorsements of New Delhi's nuclear move and suggested ways India could refurbish its image. The pro-economic-reforms Economic Times suggested that the tests had not improved India's strategic position, and may well have worsened it in terms of ties with China and Pakistan. While China's press was at last full of irate denunciations of New Delhi's actions, Tokyo's top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri warned that Beijing might be forced by its People's Liberation Army to take "countermeasures."

EDITORS: Mildred Sola Neely, Kathleen J. Brahney and Gail Hamer Burke


INDIA: "Repairing The Damage"

According to an editorial (5/15) in the centrist Hindu: "The first imperative is to immediately restrain the jingoistic euphoria that is being whipped up by the BJP and its leading representatives....

It is...inexplicably provocative for the government and its spokespersons to link the tests to the need to increase India's security against Pakistan and China. Not only will the result of such posturings plunge the region into tremendous instability, but it will increase India's vulnerability on several fronts. The years of painstaking diplomacy by predecessor repair fragile ties with China and Pakistan are likely to be unravelled by such irresponsible and confrontationist responses.... If India were to adopt a creative diplomatic course...offering to sign the CTBT, to take a fresh look at the proposal for a fissile material cut-off treaty and to propose the implementation of nuclear and non-nuclear confidence building measures with Pakistan, India can turn this moment into an opportunity for increased leverage on the world stage."

"India's Strategic Position Has Worsened"

The pro-economic-reforms Economic Times' editorial held (5/15), "India's strategic position has not improved, and may just have deteriorated. As long as India and Pakistan had only conventional weapons, India had a huge superiority. But now that both countries have gone nuclear (Pakistan is bound to conduct tests soon), the two countries are on par.... Any nuclear war will mean the destruction of both countries."

"The Market Will Extract Its Price"

An editorial (5/15) in the pro-economic-reforms Economic Times warned: "Sanctions against India...are just the tip of the iceberg.... What is clear beyond doubt is that the market will extract a price far beyond what the sanctions alone will."

PAKISTAN: "Ask U.S. To Clearly Spell Out Its Prescription For Guarantees"

An editorial in the centrist, national News said (5/15), "How far the international sanctions announced so far will really hurt the Indian economy is open to question. On the face of it, the United States has adopted a tough posture.... Reading between the lines, one can discern from their pronouncements the apprehension that the BJP is all set to use the nuclear card to derive maximum political mileage at home.... Meanwhile, the Americans should be asked to clearly spell out their prescription for guaranteeing Pakistan's national security in the wake of India becoming a declared nuclear-weapons state."

"Deepening Of Pakistan's Distrust Of West, U.S."

An op-ed by Maleeha Lodhi in the centrist, national News stressed (5/15), "Islamabad's sense of being let down by an international community that failed to heed its warnings is exacerbated by the fact that Washington not only failed to detect India's preparations for five nuclear tests, but this monumental intelligence failure was matched by a policy blunder--in totally misreading the intentions of the BJP government.... The magnitude of this double blunder has also fueled considerable official suspicion of possible U.S. acquiescence in the Indian strategic design. Whatever the validity of this view, its effect has been to deepen Islamabad's distrust of the Western community, especially the United States."


In the editorial view of the center-right, national Nation (5/15), "compensation for Pakistan"

could "include...cast-iron nuclear umbrella guarantees against the Indian threat, recognition of Pakistan's nuclear capability irrespective of whether it tests or not, with no further sanctions to be imposed to Pakistan in recognition of its legitimate right of self-defense, debt write off or at the very least reduction, previous sanctions imposed on Pakistan to be waived in the light of the new situation, economic support and investment, etc.... Our American friends would be well advised to ponder these facts with due seriousness before advising restraint to Pakistan, which now lies directly in the path of a tangible nuclear threat."

"The Case For A Pakistani Nuclear Explosion"

Under the headline above, an op-ed by Nasim Zehra in the centrist, national News (5/15) urged a quick nuclear response by Islamabad and declared, "The Indian nuclear explosions drive home the three state hostile nuclear triangle--Israel, India and United States--that engulfs the entire Muslim world. A nuclear- armed Pakistan remains the sole hope for a self-reliant Southwest Asian security arrangement."


"U.S. Dominated Order Does Not Seem To Work"

Official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (5/15) published this comment by Vladimir Kucherenko: "Now what do we do? We don't want confrontation with the West. Nor do we want to quarrel with India. The reason is that, apart from being a large high-tech and arms market, India, along with China, is our strategic partner in Southeast Asia.... The world is entering an unstable post-Soviet era. A new U.S.-dominated world order does not seem to work. So new forces keep searching for a cheap answer to the rich West's arsenals, mindful of the latest instances of the United States' dealing with 'bad guys,' including the air raids against the Bosnian and Krajina Serbs in 1995."

"Doomsday Not Fantasy"

Vladimir Dunayev held in reformist Russkiy Telegraf (5/15): "Doomsday predictions do not sound fantastic any more. Weapons of mass destruction have slipped out of the five nuclear powers' control.... The Russian president's press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky has acknowledged that the spread of weapons of mass destruction is a 'real threat to Russia.' In his opinion, Moscow must tighten export control over nuclear and rocket technologies. But that might prove late, since several countries already have components necessary to build a nuclear bomb."

BRITAIN: "Little Confidence Talbott Mission Will Succeed"

The conservative Daily Telegraph noted (5/15): "There is little confidence in Washington that the (Talbott) emergency mission will succeed in pulling Pakistan back from the brink."

"Why Should India Listen To U.S.?"

The conservative Daily Mail's editorial pointed out (5/15): "Of course, nobody in his right senses wants to see an arms race in Asia. But why should India listen to the Americans when there is so little progress in disarmament between the West and Russia? There would be more hope of a sane outcome if Washington, Moscow and Beijing led by example."


"The Risks Of Escalation"

Pierre Beylau wrote in right-of-center weekly Le Point (5/15): "The move made by India is extremely dangerous, because that particular regional checkerboard is one of the most unstable.... New Delhi wants to reposition itself on the regional level and compete with China for first place. Rightly or wrongly, India feels encircled.... Most of all, it feels that the United

States has deliberately chosen China as its privileged partner, thus reenforcing China's old dream of dominance.... Strictly speaking, India has not violated any international treaty.... The danger is not so much of seeing New Delhi misuse its nuclear weapon, it is rather one of contagion in a crucially strategic region."

ITALY: "A Sign From Birmingham"

A report from Eisenach in centrist, influential La Stampa (5/15) by Andrea di Robilant held: "On the eve of the G-8 summit, Bill Clinton is getting ready to take another 'slap,' this time by Pakistan. Despite his strong pressure on Islamabad, the U.S. president fears that a series of nuclear tests will nonetheless be carried out over the next few days in response to Indian tests.... The mood of President Clinton, who took India's defiance as a personal offense, continues to be terrible.... It is clear at this point that the G- 8 summit will be dominated by the nuclear crisis.... The United States may not obtain the tough condemnation of India it is seeking. One thing is certain: the Pakistani government will follow with attention the Birmingham talks, and a soft and split reaction by G-8 nations may become a decisive element in encouraging Pakistan to follow the road taken by India."

CHINA: "Seeking Hegemony A Threat To Neighboring Countries"

The official, Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 5/15) declared, "Regardless of the fundamental interests of its people, India risked universal condemnation to develop its nuclear weapons.... Seeking authority over South Asia is an obvious threat to neighboring countries."

"India's Absolute Lie On China"

Chen Xiaofang insisted in intellectually-oriented Guangming Daily (Guangming Ribao, 5/15), "India using the Pakistani threat as an excuse for its nuclear tests is unconvincing.... The 'Chinese nuclear threat theory' which has fabricated by India is an absolute lie."

JAPAN: "India's Nuclear Testing Deals Blow To China"

Top circulation, moderate Yomiuri's Beijing correspondent filed (5/15), "Beijing's rather slow reaction to India's nuclear testings demonstrates its apprehensions that China's omni-directional diplomacy, intended to preserve a peaceful environment for its economic development, is now crumbling.... Chinese President Jiang's state visit to India in 1996 was an attempt to secure a safer southern border.... If Pakistan conducts 'retaliatory' nuclear tests and India takes further steps to develop nuclear weapons, it would be certain that the People's Liberation Army will call for (China to adopt) counter-measures. The Chinese leadership may even be forced to review its ongoing plan to cut back its armed forces."

ISRAEL: "India's Terrible Example"

The independent Jerusalem Post said in its lead editorial (5/15): "The failure of the West to set an example by moving towards radical nuclear disarmament does not excuse India's move in the opposite direction. Two wrongs, especially when nuclear-tipped, do not make a right.... India is more likely to be a victim of its own step up the nuclear ladder, than a beneficiary. India's tests will not only make Pakistani tests likely, it encourages the mind-set that nuclear weapons contribute to national greatness.... To be effective, the nuclear powers must lead the disarmament process by example, and be willing to make minimal economic sacrifices for global security."

TUNISIA: "Why Didn't U.S. React The Same With Israel?"

Senior editor Mohsen Zoghlami asked in independent, Arabic-language As-Sabah (5/15): "Why did the United States react angrily to India's nuclear test?... Why didn't they react the same way at least with Israel, a country which continues to ignore the peace process agreement...commit crimes and overturn all the rules?... All this has been overlooked by United States, whose support to this 'friendly state' which possesses 'only' 350 nuclear warheads, remains unconditional!"

SOUTH AFRICA: "By What Moral Authority Does U.S. Condemn India?"

The black, independent Sowetan (5/15) commented: "More disturbing is the dangerous prospect of an arms race.... Questions must also be asked about the political wisdom which informed the Indian government's decision to invest such massive resources in a nuclear weapons program. In a country as poor as India, one would expect that government to prioritize socio-economic development rather than nuclear proliferation.... China and Pakistan too must share in the responsibility for what happened in the past week.... At the same time, the question must be asked: By what moral authority does the United States condemn India's errant conduct?... The United States must lead by example and start by dismantling its own nuclear arsenal."