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|September 14, 1998||
Brajesh Mishra clears misgivings over CTBT
Brajesh Mishra, principal secretary to the prime minister, has set at rest speculation that India is very close to signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and said President Bill Clinton's proposed visit to New Delhi in November is likely to be postponed.
In a television interview, Mishra said negotiations were on with the US and some other countries on the CTBT and described as ''quite misleading'' the impression that India was seeking concessions in return for agreeing to sign the treaty.
''From the US side, the issue is non-proliferation. From our side, it is the insurance of our security. Between these two parameters, discussions are being held,'' Mishra said, adding India had not asked for any concessions.
He said the discussions between prime minister's special envoy Jaswant Singh and US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott were aimed at restoring the Indo-US relations to what they were before New Delhi conducted nuclear tests and to improve them beyond that in the years to come.
India, he asserted, was a nuclear weapons state. ''This is a reality and this would have to be recognised at some time or the other.''
Mishra said it was highly unlikely that President Clinton would visit New Delhi when sanctions by the US against India were in place. ''The sanctions against us are still there. They cannot be waived or lifted soon. The congressional legislation has to be gone through. It would be somewhat unusual and bizarre for Clinton to come while sanctions are in place. I have a feeling that November is not the time. But I can say fairly confidently that the visit will not be cancelled. It is likely to be postponed.''
Mishra did not agree with the suggestion that India is opposing the signing of the CTBT on the ground that it is discriminatory.
''We had three problems. Keeping our security interests in view, we were convinced that we had to undertake the nuclear tests. And, signing the CTBT in 1996 would have debarred us from undertaking the tests.
''The treaty was not linked to nuclear disarmament, which we wanted and the very intrusive provisions in the treaty which named India among other countries that have to sign the treaty."
Mishra made it amply clear that ''we don't need any more tests since our security interests have now been taken care of. What we are doing now is to move parallel (in relation to CTBT) towards a convention on elimination of nuclear weapons. We will pursue this at the United Nations General Assembly and at the Conference on Disarmament at Geneva.
On Indo-Pak talks, Mishra said as per the present indication, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet in New York on September 23 and it is only at this meeting that the two leaders will give instructions about the date and venue for the resumption of dialogue.
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