USIS Washington 

28 May 1998


(Richardson:  international effort must stop arms race) (760)

By Judy Aita

USIA United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- Calling for a coordinated international effort to
stop the arms race in South Asia, US Ambassador Bill Richardson
deplored Pakistan's nuclear tests May 28.

Speaking with journalists outside the Security Council's meeting
rooms, Richardson said that in the days ahead the United States will
be consulting with members of the council, especially the other four
permanent members who are also nuclear powers -- China, France, Great
Britain, and Russia -- and other leaders on how to "join together to
stop this arms race."

The United States is "concerned about developments in South Asia and
we urge restraint on all sides," Richardson said. "We will be seeking
appropriate Security Council action. We think there should be a
multilateral, multinational response to reduce tensions in South

While he gave no indication of what type of action the US will seek in
the Security Council, the ambassador noted that the international
community should not accelerate the arms race, but urge both India and
Pakistan not to conduct any further tests and immediately enter into

Both countries should also sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,
which has already been signed by 149 nations, he said.

"The United States deplores Pakistan's decision to test a nuclear
explosive device. This further raises tension in South Asia,
undermines the global consensus on nonproliferation. We think
Pakistan's test is a huge mistake. We think it's going to raise
tensions in South Asia, accelerate an arms race," the ambassador also

Richardson echoed comments made by other Clinton Administration
officials in Washington calling on the governments of India and
Pakistan "to not conduct any further tests, to stop increasing
tensions in the region ... and to bring stability to a very tense

The tests came as no surprise to the United States, the ambassador
added. "Our intelligence warned us intensively of the nature and
timing of the test. The United States made its best effort and
intensive effort -- especially on the part of President Clinton -- to
persuade the Pakistanis not to test. Regrettably they went the other

"While we recognize that India tested first and Pakistan was
responding, this is no excuse for the test," Richardson said.

Meanwhile, Secretary General Kofi Annan issued a statement deploring
both the Indian and Pakistani tests and called on both governments to
sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as well as a "no-first-use
pledge with each other."

"Both nations should freeze their nuclear weapons development
programs. The number of nuclear weapons should decrease, not
increase," Annan said. "As we approach the new century, we should be
asking how best to preserve life, culture, and civilization, not how
to become more destructive."

UN spokesman Fred Eckhard added that Annan has also offered to mediate
between the two countries.

"The secretary general strongly appealed to both India and Pakistan to
make every effort to reduce increasing tensions in the region
especially in Kashmir," Eckhard said.

"He asks both sides to refrain from mutual accusations which could
further inflame the tense situation and urges the two governments to
resume their bilateral dialogue. The secretary general also takes this
opportunity to recall the availability of his good offices," the
spokesman said.

The spokesman for General Assembly President Hennadiy Udovenko of
Ukraine said the president was "gravely concerned" about Pakistan's
nuclear tests.

"Today's explosions have dealt a serious blow to global
non-proliferation efforts as they flew in the face of the
international community that had overwhelmingly deplored a similar
exercise earlier this month by India and had urged restraint by the
two countries," said assembly spokesman Alex Taukatch.

"A number of positive developments in the field of nuclear disarmament
over the past years have given hope that humanity would enter the new
millennium leaving behind the legacy of an unbridled nuclear arms
race," the spokesman said. "The latest series of tests in South Asia
threaten to dash those hopes and to further escalate tensions in an
already volatile region."

Security Council President Njuguna Mahugu of Kenya said the council is
working on a formal reaction in the form of a presidential statement
late in the day.

During a private meeting before noon May 28, council members "strongly
deplored the [two] underground nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan
despite the international call for restraint. They called upon
Pakistan and India to stop all nuclear testing and related activities
immediately," Mahugu said.