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June 2, 1998


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US won't ask others to slap sanctions on India

C K Arora in Washington

Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl F Inderfurth has indicated that the United States would not seek to persuade the other major nuclear powers to impose sanctions on India and Pakistan for conducting nuclear tests.

He was replying to a demand by members of a Senate panel on Eastern and South Asian affairs suggesting multilateralisation of the economic sanctions that the US had impose on New Delhi and Islamabad.

''At the same time, we do not wish to make international pariahs out of either India or Pakistan. We believe the purpose of these sanctions should be to influence behaviour, not to punish simply for the sake of punishment,'' he added.

He said they should not be used to cause the economic collapse of either state or prevent the meeting of basic humanitarian needs.

''Wherever possible, and as the law permits, we should work to reduce adverse effects on the competitiveness or operations of US businesses,'' he added.

Replying to a similar question in the House international relations committee, Under Secretary of State Stuart Eisenstat said the Clinton administration was in the process of interpreting the 1994 Glenn Amendment under which it had imposed sanctions against India and Pakistan.

The sanction law bans US banks lending to the government of India. However, it was not clear whether such a ban would extend to India's state governments. ''We are trying to define the measure,'' he added.

He said the US sanctions would hit Pakistan harder than India simply because of the fact that Islamabad's dependence on the international lending agencies was much more than that of India's.

Inderfurth said the United States would seek a common ground at a meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in Geneva today. The meeting has been convened by the US to deal with the situation arising out of the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan last month.

In the long-term, he pointed out, the US would seek international support for its goals, including the need to secure active and responsible adherence to international proliferation norms and a qualitative improvement in India-Pakistan relations.

He said the US would be looking for both parties to take such steps as: sign and ratify Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without delay or conditions, halt production of fissile material and participate constructively in the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty negotiations, accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on all nuclear facilities, agree not to deploy or test missile systems, maintain existing restraints against sharing nuclear and missile technology or equipment and agree upon a framework to reduce bilateral tensions, including on Kashmir.

Inderfurth said the Geneva conference would help the US achieve over time the objectives it had established.

He said both India and Pakistan might have overstated the number of nuclear tests they conducted and the variety of devices they tested.

India has claimed five tests, Pakistan six. But Inderfurth said the two countries likely exploded ''less than they said'' and that the precise number was still being determined by scrutinising seismic and other data.


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