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August 27, 1998


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India will put across its nuclear standpoint before NAM summit

India would strongly advocate that the series of nuclear tests conducted by it in May should not be ''viewed as an act of proliferation,'' if there is discussion at the Non-Aligned summit on security situation in the South Asian region in the context of nuclear explosions by Islamabad and New Delhi.

There is every possibility that the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan would be deliberated at the forthcoming NAM summit in Durban, South Africa, when it will hold extensive discussion on ''disarmament and international security.'' The Indian government's position will be explained in the light of the security environment in the region, a senior Indian official said.

In fact, India's position on nuclear tests was appreciated by a majority of the NAM countries at the ministerial level meeting at Cartagena in May soon after New Delhi conducted the tests.

Minister of State for External Affairs Vasundhara Raje explained India's position to ministers of a number of countries. She told them that India conducted the nuclear tests as it found itself surrounded by nuclear arms deployed either overtly or covertly.

The NAM summit, which will have detailed discussions on global nuclear disarmament, UN reforms and global economic scenario, is expected to give a call to the international community to join them in negotiating and implementing universal, non-discriminatory disarmament and mutually agreed confidence building measures.

The 113-member organisation has not given up hope that the nuclear weapons states would renounce their arms within a definite timeframe.

However, there are some countries including South Africa, host of the 12th NAM summit, which had expressed reservations on the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan.

These countries felt the nuclear explosions have greatly contributed to escalation of tension in the South Asian region.

But Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has dispelled their fears by stating that India is a ''responsible nuclear country and is committed to non-first-use of such weapons against non-nuclear states''.

''We have already declared that India's deterrent is a minimum nuclear deterrent intended for our self-defence," he said.

He had also stated that the Pokhran II tests in no way detract from India's longstanding commitment to global nuclear disarmament and elimination of nuclear weapons in a time-bound frame work.

Pokhran II demonstrated India's nuclear capability and, in a sense, has shown that a monopoly on nuclear weapons by five countries cannot be a stable basis for a world nuclear order.

NAM is of the view that global and regional approaches to disarmament are complementary and could be pursued simultaneously. It has urged the countries of various regions of the world to negotiate agreements to promote greater balance in conventional armament and restrain in the conventional arms.

More than 75 heads of state or government, including Vajpayee and Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharief, will attend the 12th NAM summit, beginning September 2.

Foreign and senior ministers of 112-member countries and nearly 4,000 senior officials will attend the summit to chalk out the plan of action to face new political and economic challenges encountered by developing nations, South African officials said.

It will formulate strategy to revitalise and rejuvenate the NAM, whose role diminished after the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a unipolar world.

This will be the biggest and one of the most important international political events that will take place in South Africa after the end of the apartheid era.

Vasundhara Raje will represent India at the ministerial level meet while Foreign Secretary K Ragunath will attend the senior officials meeting that will prepare the agenda for the summit.

The summit will extensively discuss global nuclear disarmament, the expansion of the Security Council, developments in Afghanistan international co-operation for promotion and protection of human rights and economic issues confronted by the developing nations.

In the field of terrorism, heightened international concern following the recent bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania will help the Durban summit to evolve a common strategy to fight the menace.

The prime minister will address the summit on September 3. Vajpayee is slated to meet Sharief on September 2 to make yet another bid to persuade Islamabad to resume dialogue at the secretary level.

On the UN reforms, the NAM feels the reforms and expansion of the Security Council should be considered as integral part of the common package, taking into account the principle of sovereign equality of states and equitable geographical distribution, as well as need for transparency, accountability in the working of the council.

The US missile attack on Afghanistan and Sudan is also expected to be deliberated to the summit along with the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, which has become a refuge for the terrorists.


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