Japan will lead Friday's offensive against tests
Murali Krishnan in London
Japan is set to take a leading role in tomorrow's G-8 meeting which hopes
to stop India and Pakistan from prising open the door to full membership of
the nuclear weapons club.
Foreign ministers from the G-8 powers -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany,
Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia -- meet in London on Friday to
agree to a united front against India and Pakistan's nuclear tests.
Among those who are also attending tomorrow's crucial meeting are foreign
ministers of South Africa, Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine --- who have
renounced their nuclear options and instead adopted further advancement of
nuclear disarmament. Also invited are the ambassadors of the Philippines and
China. The ministers will also consider the deteriorating situation in Kosovo.
The tests in both countries have spurred Japan into a barrage of diplomatic
offensive against nuclear proliferation. Japan, the only country to suffer
an atomic bomb, feels it has a moral obligation to be in the forefront
on this issue of opposition to nuclear weapons.
Japan has urged India and Pakistan to join the UN non-proliferation
treaties without being recognised as nuclear-armed countries, which has
been unequivocally been rejected by India. The established nuclear
powers are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
However, India has made its position clear on the eve of the G-8 foreign
ministers conclave. A statement issued by the Indian high commission said, "India
categorically rejects any suggestions for curtailing our nuclear weapon or
missile development programmes. These are decisions to be taken by the
Government of India on the basis of its own assessments and national
A senior official at the Indian high commission said the unilateral
gestures made by India in recent weeks had not been appreciated by those
"who claim to speak on behalf of the international community."
Some of these gestures include the institution of a moratorium on nuclear
testing, willingness to explore ways and means for formalisation of this
undertaking, readiness to engage in negotiations on an FMCT in the
Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and develop strict export controls on
nuclear and related materials and technologies.
The agenda for tomorrow's meeting is clear. The discussions will aim to build wider international support for the process initiated by the P-5 last week; how to apply international pressure on India and Pakistan to abandon their nuclear arms programme and sign up a global regime against nuclear proliferation; to persuade India and Pakistan to enter into a dialogue on the issues that divide them -- chiefly Kashmir.
The reason why representatives of Brazil and Argentina have been invited is
to demonstrate how these two countries, earlier bitter neighbours, have
given up their nuclear options and entered into a bilateral agreement on
nuclear and related materials. "The confidence building measures they took
should be an example to Pakistan and India," said a diplomat.
China may provide some guarantees at tomorrow's meeting that it does not
pose any threat in the region to India -- a major reason which led to
India's Pokhran II tests.
Japanese Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi has already stated in Tokyo
that his government is ready to launch an international forum for
"emergency action" on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The
planned forum would meet thrice in Japan before making proposals. At
the meeting, Japan will tell the participating nations about the emergency
India's position has been reiterated on several occasions, that it does not
expect third party involvement of any nature whatsoever in the process for
promoting security and stability in the region.
According to Indian high commission officials, "Any action on the part of
the G-8 which does not take our gestures into account is short-sighted and
will be counter-productive."
"We would expect a positive response to our initiatives from those who
speak for the international community, rather than prescriptive and
coercive suggestions which are neither responsible nor constructive."
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