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|July 15, 1998||
US refuses to give ground on missile testing
The Clinton administration has discounted the idea of any shift in its policy on missile testing vis-a-vis India and Pakistan, asserting that all ballistic missile flight tests are acts of provocation.
To drive this point home, a senior administration official drew attention to the statements of the P-5, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and G-8, the Group of Eight industrial nations, on the subject which formed the basis of its non-proliferation dialogue with India and Pakistan.
The P-5 statement, issued after their foreign ministers met in Geneva on June 4, said ''they (India and Pakistan) should refrain from weaponisation or deployment of nuclear weapons, from the testing or deployment of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and from any further production on fissile material for nuclear weapons.''
The administration's response came after a section of the press interpreted Assistant Secretary of State for South-Asian Affairs Karl F Inderfurth's statement in the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on Near East and South-Asian Affairs that the US was not against India and Pakistan building or testing missiles, but only against their deployment.
The official said the US was trying to set realistic goals which could accommodate the security interests of both India and Pakistan.
Earlier, during the hearing, Democratic Senator Charles S Robb noted with a bit of surprise the absence of curbs on missile testing in the US's objectives listed in Inderfurth's statement which, inter alia, mentioned that the two countries should refrain from deploying nuclear weapons or missiles systems.
Robb added that he and Senator Sam Brownback, during their recent visit to New Delhi and Islamabad, were unable to get an assurance to this effect from the two governments.
Inderfurth, in his response, said, ''We must be realistic about what we are asking of the two countries."
He recalled their discussions with officials in New Delhi and Islamabad during which, he said, ''They had been candid with us about what they can do and what they cannot do. I think certain forms of development will be going ahead. I think we have to be realistic about that, keeping an eye on the end-result in terms of stability.''
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation Robert Einhorn interjected to say that in the current situation, missile testing would be a provocation. An extended restraint would be helpful, he felt.
Inderfurth referred to the P-5, G-8 and the UN Security Council communique while listing the US objectives in its dialogue with India and Pakistan on Non-Proliferation in the aftermath of nuclear tests.
To reiterate, he pointed out, ''We have established that we want to see both the governments do the following: conduct no further nuclear tests, sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty immediately and without conditions, refrain from deploying nuclear weapons or missile systems, halt the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, participate constructively in negotiations towards a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, formalise existing policies not to export weapons of mass destruction and missile technology or equipment and resume direct dialogue to address the root causes of tension between them, including Kashmir."
He said, ''We have consistently articulated these objectives in our meetings with India and Pakistan, in previous testimonies to Congress and in our bilateral and multilateral exchanges with others.''
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