15 May 1998

Press Release


19980515 GENEVA, 14 May (UN Information Service) -- The Conference on Disarmament resumed its 1998 session this morning amid broad condemnation of the series of nuclear tests conducted this week by India.

Over 30 countries took the floor to express regret over India's decision, which many said broke the international norm against test explosions established by the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiated at the Conference. According to the representative of Australia, his Government could only conclude that the tests were the doing of a Government that had the utmost disregard for accepted international norms of behaviour. India's actions were a slap in the face to the overwhelming majority of the international community determined to work towards the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world, he said.

The five tests, conducted on 11 and 13 May, risked plunging the South Asia region into a nuclear arms race, delegates said as they urged restraint on India's neighbours. They called on India to abstain from any further testing and to adhere to the CTBT and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

But for the representative of Pakistan it was "extremely disingenuous" for anyone to call on his country to exercise restraint. The Government of Pakistan would accept obligations and commitments in the field of nuclear non-proliferation only "if these are equitable and non-discriminatory", he added, before quoting Pakistan's Foreign Minister. "Indian actions, which pose an immediate and grave threat to Pakistan's security, will not go unanswered".

Meanwhile, the representative of India said her country remained fully committed to the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. India believed that universal, non-discriminatory and effectively verifiable disarmament agreements offered the best means for approaching the issue of nuclear disarmament and remained ready to participate in such efforts with other countries, she added.

The Conference will continue to listen to statements on the Indian nuclear tests this afternoon starting at 3 p.m.


MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said since its independence, Pakistan had confronted the endemic hostility of India. Most recently, before assuming office, the present Hindu fundamentalist leadership of India had declared that it would conduct nuclear tests and "induct" nuclear weapons. It had also threatened to conduct attacks on Pakistan across the Line of Control in Kashmir. It had now carried out the first of those threats. Nuclear weapons proliferation was now a fact of life in South Asia. India had throughout its recent history proceeded systematically to acquire and develop nuclear weapons, he said. Nuclear weapons development had been accompanied by the development of nuclear delivery systems, especially ballistic missiles. India had developed its nuclear and missile programmes with the active assistance and cooperation of several industrialized countries, including Canada, the United States, France, Switzerland and Russia. Pakistan's actions in the nuclear and missile fields were taken, at each stage, in response to the escalatory steps taken by India. Pakistan had never resorted to adventurist or irresponsible actions, and its policies had been marked by restraint. For example, after India's 1974 nuclear test, Pakistan had not reciprocated. It did not feel the need to do so if India's nuclear weapons development did not go any further. Moreover, Pakistan had held back so far from deploying its missiles. In response to India's 24 missile tests, Pakistan had conducted only one missile flight test so far. Yet, despite the fact that every escalatory step on the nuclear proliferation ladder was initiated by India, it was Pakistan which had been subjected to a series of discriminatory penalties, sanctions and restraints designed to prevent it from acquiring the capability to respond to the Indian escalations.

The press statement issued by India on 11 May that "it would be prepared to consider being an adherent to some of the undertakings in the CTBT" dependent on "a number of reciprocal activities", and that "it would be happy to participate in FMCT negotiations", indicated a game plan to ease the cost of the nuclear tests, Mr. Akram continued. In India's eyes, the CTBT seemed to have shed its inequity overnight. Forgetting previous declarations, India appeared to have given up its call for "nuclear disarmament within a time-bound framework". That call was, after all, only a ploy. Were the "reciprocal activities" asked in return for acceptance of the CTBT a reference to India's desire for technology to carry out sub-critical nuclear tests? Or was it a reference to its demand for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council? Or, even more ambitiously, was it a demand by India to be formally acknowledged a nuclear-weapon State? At least two nuclear powers had expressed an interest in eliciting what price India may be asking for adherence to the CTBT. Was it merely a coincidence that the same two powers had recently expressed an interest in exploring deals for civil nuclear cooperation with India?

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In the new strategic environment, it was extremely disingenuous for any one to call on Pakistan to exercise restraint, or to sign the CTBT, or to agree to fissile materials cut-off negotiations. Those calls were, of course, consistent with the discrimination to which Pakistan had been historically subjected. The Government of Pakistan would accept obligations and commitments in the field of nuclear non-proliferation only "if these are equitable and non-discriminatory. We will not accept unilateral obligations or commitment. We will not accept commitments which would permanently jeopardize the ability of Pakistan to deter the nuclear and conventional threats which India poses to our security". As stated by Pakistan's Foreign Minister yesterday, "Indian actions, which pose an immediate and grave threat to Pakistan's security, will not go unanswered".

HARALD KREID (Austria) said his Government regretted the underground nuclear tests conducted by India on 11 and 13 May. The Austrian Government was filled with a deep sense of frustration at those events, which came at a time when there was reason to think the world was about to rid itself once and for all of nuclear explosions. It was thus a major setback the world was faced with. True enough, the Government of India had always kept that option open; it had given a clear signal by staying away from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and by refusing to sign, and preventing the conclusion in the Conference of negotiations on, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Austria hoped that India, having satisfied itself of its nuclear capabilities, would consider its adhesion to the CTBT with no strings attached. The wording of an 11 May statement circulated by the Permanent Mission of India was not reassuring: to link adherence to the CTBT to "a number of reciprocal activities" might well be self-defeating. Austria could not help but doubt the true intentions of the Indian Government.

AKIRA HAZASHI (Japan) said words were not sufficient to express the shock of the Japanese Government and people over India's nuclear tests. It was said that the explosions completed a series of tests, but the damage they caused and their ultimate effects on the goals of international disarmament were immeasurable.

IAN SOUTAR (United Kingdom) read a statement from the Presidency of the European Union. According to the statement, "The Presidency expresses its dismay at the news of the Indian nuclear tests. The European Union is fully committed to the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty which seeks to discourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The European Union has a strong interest in the peace and stability of South Asia and is concerned about the risk of nuclear and missile proliferation. The Presidency is ensuring that the implications of this test are discussed by the Member States at the Political Committee on 12 May". The issue would again be taken up by the European Union, he said. His delegation

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firmly supported calls on India's neighbours to exercise restraint and for India immediately to cease and renounce any further testing.

ANTONIO DE ICAZA (Mexico) said the Government of Mexico had, on 11 May, condemned and deplored the underground nuclear tests conducted by India. Such acts were not conducive to the achievement of a nuclear weapons-free world; rather, they exacerbated regional tensions and were inconsistent with the actual international climate of détente. The Rio Group of countries had yesterday also condemned the five nuclear tests.

FRANK MAJOOR (Netherlands) said the Dutch Government had decided to freeze all direct macroeconomic aid to India. Furthermore, arms export licenses would no longer be issued. Possible further steps would be discussed in the framework of the European Union. Nuclear testing by India was not only a rejection of the CTBT as such, but also of the process supported by the international community of agreeing to pragmatic steps on the road to a world free of nuclear weapons.

GUNTHER SEIBERT (Germany) said German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel had stated publicly that the Indian nuclear tests of 11 and 13 May represented "a slap in the face" for all of the 149 States which had signed the CTBT. Together with its partners in the European Union, Germany deplored India's decisions to abandon its policy of nuclear restraint and to further aggravate the security situation in the region. The NPT must be applied universally -- India must not stay away from it forever. Germany appealed to India to also sign the CTBT. It also appealed to India's neighbours to exercise restraint.

JOHN CAMPBELL (Australia) said Australia had taken immediate and decisive action to let its extreme disappointment be known to the Indian Government at its flagrant defiance of the clearly expressed will of the international community that nuclear testing must cease forever. Australia's reaction, and similar protests by the international community, had not dissuaded India from conducting two further nuclear tests yesterday, however. Australia could only conclude that this was the act of a Government that had the utmost disregard for accepted international norms of behaviour. India's actions were a slap in the face to the overwhelming majority of the international community determined to work towards the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world. He called on India's neighbours to exercise the highest degree of restraint in the face of this provocation. Australia again called on India to join the international non-proliferation regime and urged India to sign and ratify the CTBT without delay or condition.

JOHN KIERULF (Denmark) said Denmark had informed the Government of India that its decision to ignore the advice of the international community and conduct nuclear tests would have serious consequences for Denmark's development aid to India. Denmark was following the situation in South Asia

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with great concern and, in conjunction with the appeals of the international community over the past few days, strongly urged India to put a stop to its nuclear ambitions and concentrate on securing economic development for its society. Denmark also called upon India to join the NPT and the CTBT.

ERWIN HOFER (Switzerland) said his country had learned with deep regret the conduct by India of several nuclear tests on 11 and 13 May. The explosions put an end to the moratorium on nuclear experiments observed by India since its first nuclear test in 1974, and by all nuclear powers since the signing of the CTBT. Switzerland invited the Indian authorities to abstain from conducting any further nuclear experiments and to adhere to the NPT and the CTBT. Switzerland hoped the States of South Asia would not yield to the temptation of a nuclear arms race and avoid any action that could endanger peace and security in the region.

MYKOLA MAIMESKUL (Ukraine), reading a statement from Ukraine's Foreign Ministry, said Ukraine, which had voluntarily eliminated the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world and committed itself not to carry out nuclear testing, condemned the step taken by India, which endangered existing international arrangements for nuclear non-proliferation.

CLIVE PEARSON (New Zealand) said the New Zealand Government had withdrawn its High Commissioner in New Delhi for consultations in Wellington on India's most regrettable action. New Zealand joined the many calls of other concerned countries urging India to make the commitment not to conduct any further tests. It also called on India to join the NPT and sign the CTBT as a matter of urgency.

SAVITRI KUNADI (India) said that in conducting the May 11 and 13 tests, India had not violated any international obligations or undertakings. The decision to undertake the tests had been taken after due consideration of India's national security requirements. India remained fully committed to the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. It believed that universal, non-discriminatory and effectively verifiable disarmament agreements offered the best means for approaching the issue of nuclear disarmament and remained ready to participate in such efforts with other countries.

BJORN SKOGMO (Norway) said Norway condemned the nuclear tests conducted by India on 11 and 13 may. It called on India to immediately renounce all nuclear testing and to refrain from any action that could further deteriorate the situation. Norway urged India to sign and ratify the NPT and the CTBT without any conditions; and strongly appealed to other countries in the region to exercise restraint and not follow India's example.

ANDRE MERNIER (Belgium) said the Indian Government's decision to conduct the nuclear tests broke, in an inadmissible way, with the international norm

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on the matter. The tests endangered security and stability in the region. Belgium called on the Indian Government to join the overwhelming majority of States that had adhered to the NPT.

VASILY SIDOROV (Russian Federation) said the Russian Foreign Ministry had stated on 12 May that the news of the tests conducted by India had been perceived in Russia with anxiety and concern. The step taken by India ran counter to the efforts of the international community to strengthen the non-proliferation regime at the global and regional levels. As a close friend of India, Russia deeply regretted that action.

DONALD SINCLAIR (Canada) said the Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chretien, had said Canada was shocked and disappointed at India's action, which could set off a nuclear arms race on the Indian subcontinent. Canada's relations with India had been placed on hold, with the Prime Minister announcing a series of measures to be implemented immediately, including the recall to Ottawa of Canada's High Commissioner. Further measures would be announced following consultations with Canada's friends and allies.

G. BALBONI ACQUA (Italy) said Italy was deeply disappointed by India's nuclear tests, actions that went against international efforts to consolidate non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. Faced with such a deplorable act, all must demonstrate a sense of responsibility and restraint. Italy invited India to adhere to the CTBT.

LARS NORBERG (Sweden) said Indian nuclear testing was a serious blow to regional and global security and to international nuclear disarmament. Sweden underlined the crucial importance of the NPT and the CTBT for international efforts to avert the danger of nuclear war. It strongly urged India to reconsider its nuclear policies and to adhere to both treaties without conditions.

CELSO LAFER (Brazil) said nuclear testing not only ran counter to the long sought international norm provided by the CTBT, it might also have serious and unpredictable implications for regional and global security, exacerbating tensions which might lead to new arms races. No amount of justification could legitimize weapons of mass destruction, nor could their possession increase the security of any State. That was why Brazil hoped this week's distressing developments would lead to a sober assessment of their implications on the part of all countries.

ALI KHORRAM (Iran) said his country had always believed that despite their serious shortcomings, the NPT and the CTBT constituted valuable international instruments which could contribute to the realization of nuclear disarmament. In that context, Iran could not but express its serious concern over recent nuclear explosions by India. The explosions further undermined

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the international non-proliferation and test-ban regimes and provided a pretext for further intransigence and procrastination in the universal drive for nuclear disarmament.

LI CHANGHE (China) said China deplored the fact that despite international reaction to the tests conducted on 11 May India had gone ahead and carried out further tests yesterday. The Chinese Government condemned the tests, which undermined the efforts of the United Nations to achieve the cessation of nuclear testing and which would have greave consequences for peace and security in South Asia and in the international community as a whole. India affirmed that China represented a threat to its security; that was merely a lie meant to justify India's acquisition of nuclear weapons. China had always worked to maintain friendly relations with its neighbours, and it had committed itself not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States. China had asked India to abstain from any actions that could aggravate the situation.

AMADOR MARTINEZ (Spain) said India's actions went against the de facto moratorium on nuclear testing being observed by the international community. They were also contrary to the efforts to establish an organization to oversee the implementation of the CTBT, and to work on behalf of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Spain urged India to adhere to the NPT and to sign the CTBT. It also called on the countries of South Asia not to let themselves be pushed into an arms race that could have destabilizing effects even beyond the region.

PETER NARAY (Hungary) told the Conference that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a statement yesterday through which the Hungarian Government expressed its regret over the nuclear tests conducted by India and associated itself with the statement of the presidency of European Union issued on 12 May.

J.S. SELEBI (South Africa) said that only by actively pursuing nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation equally would the international community ensure that the world no longer face the spectre of a nuclear holocaust generated by the renewed pursuit of a nuclear arms race once believed to be a thing of the past. The South African Government had yesterday expressed its deep concern over the further nuclear tests conducted by India. South Africa opposed all nuclear tests. Security was provided by nuclear disarmament rather than by nuclear proliferation. The country hoped the Indian tests not result in arms race in South Asia.

ANNE ANDERSON (Ireland) said the Government of Ireland had expressed its profound dismay at the nuclear tests conducted by India, which demonstrated contempt for world opinion. The emergence of another nuclear-weapon State was

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a most serious setback for the prospect of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

IFTEKHAR A. CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said Bangladesh hoped the countries of the region would refrain from undertaking nuclear weaponization programmes, which only lowered the level of security and contributed to the spiralling of the arms race. It was particularly sad when that level of competition could take place between peoples who shared a rich and ancient cultural heritage that did them proud. It was worth remembering that it was more heroic to resist temptation than to yield to it. For its part, Bangladesh was committed, morally and legally, to the non-proliferation regime. It invited all countries to follow suit.

MURAT SUNGAR (Turkey) said nuclear tests, which threatened regional stability and security, also caused severe damage to the environment and to public health. Turkey, which had been among the first signatories of the CTBT, had lent its continuous support to the international efforts to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It therefore considered the nuclear tests conducted by India as a regrettable development. Turkey hoped that such tests would not have adverse effects on ongoing international efforts in the field of nuclear disarmament.

D. COUNDOUREAS (Greece) said the nuclear testing conducted by India this week could create new tensions in the region and destroy the spirit of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destructions characterizing today's world. Greece called on India to put an end to its nuclear testing and to sign and ratify the CTBT.

V. RODRIGUEZ CEDENO (Venezuela) said his delegation wanted to associate itself to the statement made by Mexico and express its adherence to the statement adopted by the Rio Group yesterday in Panama. The damage caused by activities such as nuclear testing were not only of a cross-border nature but concerned the whole of the international community.

FRANCOIS RIVASSEAU (France) said India's nuclear tests were a deeply regrettable development. France asked India to announce unambiguously its or conditions to the CTBT, and its participation in a constructive spirit in cut-off negotiations. India was also called upon to do its part in efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

JOHN GREY (United States) said India's series of nuclear weapons tests created a serious international security situation. The President of the United States had imposed sanctions on India, including the termination of bilateral assistance, except humanitarian items; termination of military sales and financing; United States opposition to the extension of any loans and guarantees in international financial institutions; the prohibition of United

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States bank loans or credit to the Government of India, and the prohibition of exports to India of specific goods and technology, among other items. India's tests were particularly deplorable in an era when the international community had taken significant steps to reduce the dangers posed by nuclear arms, including the successful negotiation of the CTBT and the indefinite extension and strengthening of the NPT. The tests flouted the international norm against nuclear test explosions embodied in the CTBT and raised the risk of further nuclear and missile proliferation in South Asia. That was why President Bill Clinton had urged India's neighbours not to follow down the path of a dangerous arms race.

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For information media. Not an official record.