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|January 13, 1999||
India refuses to accept regional non-proliferation
India has defended its efforts to develop a "minimum credible nuclear deterrence" to ensure reasonable security, asserting that this right is "non-negotiable".
T P Sreenivasan, deputy chief of mission in the Indian embassy, said at the seventh Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference in Washington yesterday: "In carrying out the [nuclear] tests in May 1998, India did not violate any international agreement, but merely underscored the point that, if some nuclear powers are here to stay, including those in our immediate neighbourhood, then India has no choice but to maintain its minimal, assured nuclear/missile capabilities."
"Since nuclear weapons are global in scope, we do not accept a contrived so-called South Asian regional non-proliferation regime," he added.
Earlier, Ambassador Sha Zukan, director-general of the department of arms control and disarmament in China's foreign ministry, said, "It is a direct violation of the UN Security Council resolution 1172 [on India's nuclear tests] to negotiate, or even to discuss, with India on India's so-called nuclear deterrence capability."
"It is also unhelpful to publicly support India's permanent membership in the UN Security Council soon after its nuclear tests," he added.
Ambassador Sha said the non-proliferation regime was hit the hardest by India's and Pakistan's tests and it is of vital importance that further proliferation of nuclear weapons be prevented.
"To this end, first and foremost, we must exert all our efforts to stop and reverse the nuclear development programmes of India and Pakistan," he said. "If the international community could take effective measures to stop or even reverse the two countries' nuclear development programmes, the authority and vitality of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime will be immeasurably enhanced."
Sha said the international community, especially the major powers, must have a consensual view and take concerted action on this matter.
There was also some controversy whether India is willing to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
When Sreenivasan was asked to explain the position, he quoted Prime Minister A B Vajpayee: India is now engaged in discussions with key interlocutors on a range of issues, including the CTBT. We are prepared to bring these discussions to a successful conclusion, so that the entry into force of the CTBT is not delayed beyond September 1999.
Assistant Secretary of State Robert Einhorn said the United States had no private assurance on the subject beyond Vajpayee's public statement. "We take it as an intent to sign the CTBT," he added.
He also gave details of the American position in the talks between the two countries on the matter.
Shahid Kamal, deputy chief of mission in the Pakistani embassy in Washington, blamed India for his country's tests.
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