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|July 17, 1998||
US to review policy on science talks with India, Pakistan
The United States is reviewing its science and technology engagement with both India and Pakistan in the aftermath of their nuclear tests.
State Department spokesman James Rubin made this announcement on Thursday. ''This could have an impact on Indian and Pakistani scientists engaged in nuclear and missile development programmes,'' he said. The review included the visa application process for such individuals.
''It is not - let me emphasise - not an across-the-board restriction on scientists from either country,'' he added.
Rubin explained that because of the review, India's Atomic Energy Commission Chairman R Chidambaram's visa request and application fee were returned to him on July 9, 1998.
He said his understanding was that Chidambaram was coming to the US to attend a conference at a university the name of which he promised to provide later.
Asked whether the conference was ''specifically nuclear-related or missile-related or something like that'', the spokesman said: ''It's my understanding that it was a technical (and) scientific conference. But because of the broad-based review that's ongoing and because of his position as the head of India's Atomic Energy Commission, we told him that his application would have to be reviewed, and he didn't persist.''
Asked about the review's duration, Rubin said he has no further information. ''We are reviewing scientific exchanges in this area. So this is not a policy specific to this individual, it's a broad-based policy.''
Elaborating, Rubin said the US will not presume that if scientists from other countries visit the country, it is to gain access to technology or know-how about how to build nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. ''On the contrary, what we try to do is to prevent that kind of thing from happening, and try to make sure that those people who are seeking information, know-how or technology are not receiving it here in the United States.''
Rubin further said that as part of a broad-based sanctions policy, it is approppriate for the US to put restrictions in science and technology areas. ''We are looking at what those restrictions ought to be.''
He rejected the suggestion that India became a nuclear power using the route of scientific exchanges and discussions with the US. ''The key ingredient in nuclear proliferation is the fissile material - material that has been enriched to a point that it can create a nuclear chain reaction. That is not normally something that you can obtain from a scientific exchange or a discussion of that kind. It requires equipment, technology that you have to obtain from around the world,'' he said.
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