Great Seal

[EXCERPTS] U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

TUESDAY, MAY 19, 1998

11-12,14Contacts w/ Pakistan to discourage nuclear test in reaction to Indian testing
11Reaction to Indian Home Minister warning remarks to Pakistan on Kashmir
11-12,14Rumored China nuclear security guarantee for Pakistan; GOP not seeking international security guarantee in considering response to GOI tests
12US consultations with Chinese on India testing and Pakistani response
12-13Administration view of Pressler Amendment; Pakistan would benefit by not testing
13Refer to last week's remarks re effect of potential sanctions on India, discrepancy
13International condemnation, sanctions against India nuclear tests
13US does not support permanent UN Security Council membership for India

DPB # 62
TUESDAY, MAY 19, 1998, 1:05 P.M.


QUESTION: What - (inaudible) - proliferation - Pakistan; is that a continuation of this discussion?

MR. RUBIN: Go ahead.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about ongoing dialogue with the Pakistanis on trying to discourage them from responding to the Indian tests?

MR. RUBIN: We are in regular consultation with many countries around the world. We're consulting closely with leaders and diplomats of all countries having strong concerns about nonproliferation. We're discouraging this potential Pakistani test and urging them to make the more difficult but the better call -- and that is to take the high road and not go forward with this test.

In that regard, let me say that yesterday's remarks by Home Minister Advani, like India's recent nuclear test -- these are remarks about urging Pakistan to back off on Kashmir, which I though you were going to ask me about -- seems to indicate that India is foolishly and dangerously increasing tensions with its neighbors and is indifferent to world opinion. We call upon India to exercise great caution in its statements and actions at this particularly sensitive time, with emotions running high.

With regard to Kashmir specifically, we urge both sides to respect the line of control and refrain from provocative actions, including support for militant forces or cross-border pursuit of militant forces.

QUESTION: How would you feel about China extending a nuclear security guarantee to Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: I have heard that only from rumors from journalists; I've not heard any serious analysts proposing that or suggesting that China is pursuing that. What we want is Pakistan to see that, in the long run, it will be better off, more secure, more respected if it chooses not to test. With regard to any nuclear security relationship, which we're unaware of, it's hard for me to comment on.

QUESTION: I didn't ask you if you had read about it --

MR. RUBIN: Right, I'll take the question for the record. We've heard so little about it - it's never been discussed in diplomatic circles - that we haven't studied the matter.

QUESTION: Well it was a very high level meeting in China today, and apparently --

MR. RUBIN: Right, and inaccurate speculation, as far as I can tell, based on that meeting, is causing the issue to be raised in a way that we've never studied it because we're not aware that China is about to extend a nuclear umbrella to any country, nor would it.

QUESTION: Is China one of the countries we are consulting with about the situation in Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: Yes. Secretary Albright has been in consultation with the Chinese Foreign Minister, and consultations have been at lower levels. Frankly, we were very pleased with the fact that China and the United States see eye to eye on the dangers of allowing the nuclear arms competition between India and Pakistan to spin out of control. China has played a very restraining and helpful role in this regard, and we certainly hope that what happened in their discussions with Pakistan would be leading Pakistan towards the kind of decision that President Clinton and Secretary Albright have spoken to.

QUESTION: Jamie, in light of the bellicose statements coming from India since their five tests, doesn't a nuclear balance of terror, as it used to be called, make a certain amount of sense for Pakistan?

MR. RUBIN: We certainly understand the political pressure they're under, but they're not going to make themselves more secure by accelerating a nuclear arms competition between Pakistan and India. On the contrary, we believe that both Pakistan, India and the world will be less secure if they were to go forward with tests. That is the position of the United States; it's one we've shared with them. We certainly understand the great political pressures they're under, but we do not think that some sort of balance of terror, as described by you, would improve the situation that currently exists.

QUESTION: Is the US proposing a new policy of solving the Greek-Turkish differences and the Cyprus problem as a package deal?

MR. RUBIN: Yes, last question on Pakistan.

QUESTION: Actually, I had a few questions just to clarify. There have been contradictory reports coming from Pakistan about whether or not a decision has been made to test.

MR. RUBIN: We're not aware of a decision.

QUESTION: You're not aware of a decision being made. Okay, second question is, what is the government's position on the Pressler Amendment, overturning it?

MR. RUBIN: Well, what we've said is we've been working with members of Congress on different aspects of this for some time. National Security Advisor Berger made clear that he thinks the climate would change remarkably and dramatically if Pakistan did not go forward with testing.

QUESTION: Have you taken a position on it?

MR. RUBIN: Again, the Pressler Amendment and all that goes with it is a very complex set of legislation. What I can say is that certainly Pakistan would benefit and we would try to assist them in that regard in their relationship, military and otherwise, with the United States if they didn't go forward and test. National Security Advisor Berger has made clear that the climate in Congress, in his view, would change dramatically.

QUESTION: My final question on the matter is that there are contradictory estimates of the effects of the sanctions in India. The new government --

MR. RUBIN: I put out an extraordinarily large amount of detailed material about this last week, and we'd be happy to get that for you for the record.

QUESTION: Okay, and it addresses the discrepancy between the two estimates?

MR. RUBIN: I'll do the best we can on the details of that. But again, estimates tend to have discrepancies by their very nature -- estimates.

QUESTION: Jamie, I just want to ask a follow-up on Pakistan. It seems a bit of a catch-22 for Pakistan, because on the one hand you have Prime Minister Sharif saying he's waiting to see what benefits can come towards Pakistan if they don't test. They're also waiting to see what the international reaction is to India's test, which to date has been rather muted, with the exception of the United States. But at the same time, you're saying that the US, or at least the State Department doesn't want to come out and say that the Pressler Amendment would be rolled back until you see if Pakistan is ready to test or not.

MR. RUBIN: Let me make two points. Number one, we do not believe the international reaction is muted. When the eight leading countries in the world condemn something, I think even in the language of critics, that could hardly be described as muted.

Secondly, a whole series of countries have announced economic sanctions against India. It may not be every country in the world, nor do every country in the world have the automaticity that the United States has had. But clearly, this decision will redown to the disadvantage of India for a long, long time to come. Generally speaking, we're talking about billions of dollars of economic assistance and bank loans that will not go to India that would otherwise have done so.

With respect to Japan and Canada and New Zealand and a whole set of countries, economic sanctions have taken place. So clearly, India is far worse off. With respect to their aspiration to be a permanent member of the Security Council, we most certainly could not support this. Therefore, in terms of India's standing, in terms of its economic future, and in terms of its political role in the world, it has been damaged, and damaged severely.

With respect to what Pakistan's decision-making will be based on, it is our understanding it is not going to make this decision based on a few million dollars here or a few tens of million dollars there in military equipment. This is an existential decision for them, and will be made based on whether they think they will be safer or less safe, on whether they think that India will be moved out of the mainstream or not, and not so much based on what they think would happen in their relations with the United States. In their discussions in Pakistan, Deputy Secretary Talbott concluded that their thinking was much more based on the two questions I referred to than on the prospect of the Pressler Amendment or some additional aid package.

QUESTION: In terms of Pakistan's perception of its own security, I think one of the things that Pakistan would have liked to hear from the United States is that it might be included in the US nuclear umbrella.

MR. RUBIN: That didn't come up in Pakistan, so I guess --

QUESTION: So what kind of reassurances would Pakistan need to hear about its security? What would have to happen?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I'm trying to indicate to you that they are not looking to the United States or any other country to solve their security problems for them through some set of arrangements. They are making a decision over whether they should move from the status of a country that we believe has a capability to put together a limited number of nuclear weapons in a relatively short time to a country that conducts such tests and what will the results of those tests be for their status in the world, for their economy, and for their relationship with India. Will they end up being better off? Will the people of Pakistan end up being better off - not will they have an additional plane or an additional repayment of an additional loan or will they have a new military arrangement with some country or another. But it's a much larger question than simply a matter that can be resolved - I grant you that a security alliance of some major proportion might have an impact on them; but I've just not heard anybody talking about that other than journalists and commentators.


(The briefing concluded at 1:50 P.M.)

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