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International Comment

South Asia Nuclear Crisis - Special Feature

United Nations

Statement by Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 13 May

"The Secretary-General is deeply disturbed over the Government of India's announcement of two more nuclear tests on 13 May... India has stated that this is expected to complete the current series of tests and has made a qualified offer to adhere to some of the undertakings of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty selectively. The Secretary-General continues to look forward to the unequivocal assurance of India and all other States that the international community's norm on nuclear testing and non-proliferation would be adhered to in order that progress towards nuclear disarmament - a common desire of all States and peoples - can be achieved as soon as possible."

Source: UN Press Release SG/SM/6560, 13 May.

Remarks by Secretary-General, Cleveland, 19 May

"I think our senses have been lulled a little bit with regard to the nuclear danger... But I think what has happened in India has woken everybody up. ... [Y]ou cannot have an exclusive club who have the nuclear weapons and are refusing to disband it... The nuclear powers need to set an example for other nations. ... We must get back to basics and [tackle] nuclear disarmament in a way that is much more aggressive than in the past..."

Sources: UN says India renewed nuclear fears, Associated Press, 19 May; India, confident after N-tests, steps up rhetoric, Reuters, 19 May.

Security Council Presidential Statement, 14 May

Editor's note: the statement was delivered by Security Council President Njuguna M. Mahugu of Kenya.

"The Security Council strongly deplores the three underground nuclear tests that India conducted on 11 May...and the two further tests conducted on 13 May...despite overwhelming international concern and protests. The Council strongly urges India to refrain from any further tests. It is of the view that such testing is contrary to the de facto moratorium on the testing of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and to global efforts towards nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. The Council also expresses its concern at the effects of this development on peace and stability in the region.

... The Council appeals to India, and all other States which have not yet done so, to become parties to the NPT, and to the CTBT, without delay and without conditions. The Council also encourages India to participate, in a positive spirit, in the proposed negotiations with other States for a fissile material cut-off treaty in Geneva with a view to reaching early agreement.

With a view to preventing an escalation in the arms race, in particular with regard to nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, and to preserving peace in the region, the Security Council urges States to exercise maximum restraint. The Council underlines that sources of tension in South Asia should only be resolved through dialogue and not by military build-up. ..."

Source: United Nations Press Release SC/6517, 14 May.

Statement by the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, 13 May

"The President of the General Assembly [Hennadiy Udovenko of Ukraine] has learned with dismay and disappointment of a series of nuclear tests conducted by India on Monday and Wednesday. Over the past years, there have been encouraging signs in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. ...

Recognizing that there is a genuine need to de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons, the General Assembly at its current session reaffirmed its commitment to the cause of creating a nuclear-weapon-free world and welcomed a number of recent steps...taken by States towards promoting the regime of non-proliferation. Regrettably, the latest series of nuclear tests runs contrary to that positive trend. ..."

Source: UN Press Release GA/SM/39, 13 May.

Remarks by Jayantha Dhanapala, Under-Secretary General for Disarmament, 19 May

"[It is] also important to urge the nuclear-weapon States...that they must honour their commitments with regard to nuclear disarmament. ... There is considerable disappointment on the part of non-nuclear-weapon States [concerning] the fidelity of the nuclear States to the commitments made [at NPT Review and Extension Conference] in 1995..."

Source: UN says India renewed nuclear fears, Associated Press, 19 May.


G8 Statement on Indian Nuclear Tests, 'Regional Statements', Birmingham, UK, 15 May 1998

Full text

"We condemn the nuclear tests which were carried out by India on 11 and 13 May. Such action runs counter to the will expressed by 149 signatories to the CTBT to cease nuclear testing, to efforts to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime and to steps to enhance regional and international peace and security. It has been met by immediate international concern and opposition, from governments and more widely. We underline our full commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as the cornerstones of the global non-proliferation regime and the essential foundations for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. We express our grave concern about the increased risk of nuclear and missile proliferation in South Asia and elsewhere. We urge India and other states in the region to refrain from further tests and the deployment of nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. We call upon India to rejoin the mainstream of international opinion, to adhere unconditionally to the NPT and the CTBT and to enter into negotiations on a global treaty to stop the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. India's relationship with each of us has been affected by these developments. We are making this clear in our own direct exchanges and dealings with the Indian Government and we call upon other states similarly to address their concerns to India. We call upon and encourage Pakistan to exercise maximum restraint in the face of these tests and to adhere to international non-proliferation norms."


Statement by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, 14 May

"The Government considers that India's actions could have the most damaging consequences for security in South Asia and globally. It risks a regional arms race and is flagrant defiance of the international community's strong support for nuclear non-proliferation... India must immediately sign the CTBT, join the international non-proliferation regime and forswear forever the use of nuclear weapons."

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Media Release FA59, 14 May.


Remarks to Parliament by Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, 26 May

"I believe that India's quest for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council has suffered irreparable damage. It has forfeited any claim to a permanent seat on a body created specifically to create peace and security and enhance the international order... We have to demonstrate very forcibly that if it is the popular view in India that acquiring a nuclear weapon or the capacity for nuclear weapons is the way to elevate your status, the international community has to say no... If they think this is the way to get entry to the Security Council or positions of responsibility in the Commonwealth or other areas, they can forget it..."

Source: India can forget Security Council dream - Canada, Reuters, 26 May.


Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhu Bangzao, 12 May

"The Chinese Government expresses grave concern about India conducting nuclear tests... [The tests] run against international trends and are disadvantageous to peace and stability in South Africa..."

Sources: Nations fume over India's nuclear tests, Reuters, 12 May; China says gravely concerned about India N-tests, Reuters, 12 May.

Foreign Ministry Statement, 14 May

"In disregard of the strong opposition of the international community, the Indian Government conducted two more nuclear tests... The Chinese Government is deeply shocked by this and hereby expresses its strong condemnation. This act of India's is nothing but an outrageous contempt for the common will of the international community for the comprehensive ban on nuclear tests and a hard blow on the international effort to prevent nuclear weapon proliferation. It will entail serious consequences to the peace and stability in South Asia and the world at large. The international community should adopt a common position in strongly demanding India to immediately stop the development of nuclear weapons.

The Indian Government itself has undermined the international effort in banning nuclear tests in defiance of universal condemnation so as to obtain...hegemony in South Asia and triggered off [a] nuclear arms race in the region. And yet it has maliciously accused China of posing a nuclear threat to India. This is utterly groundless. Ever since China possessed nuclear weapons, it has advocated the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and has unilaterally and unconditionally undertaken not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States and nuclear-free zones. This gratutitous accusation by India against China is solely for the purpose of finding an excuse for the development of its nuclear weapons. The Chinese Government will continue to closely watch the development of the situation."

Source: Chinese Embassy in Washington, web-site


Foreign Ministry Statement, 12 May

"It will pose a risk for southern Asia if the nuclear tests mean that India becomes a nuclear power. This can increase tension in the region and such a development would be extremely alarming."

Source: Denmark freezes aid to India over nuclear blasts, Reuters, 12 May.


Remarks by Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, 12 May

"We are...convinced that the whole EU will protest about nuclear weapon tests. I fear that this could lead to a spread of nuclear weapons again..."

Source: Denmark freezes aid to India over nuclear blasts, Reuters, 12 May.


Foreign Ministry statement, 11 May

"France reiterates its commitment both to the cause of disarmament and non-proliferation and to the improvement of security and stability in South Asia. In this context, it expresses its concern and calls on all the region's States to show restraint.

The implementation of the Indian Government's declarations on its participation in the negotiation of a treaty cutting off the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons (FMCT) and its attitude to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will be the subject of close scrutiny on our part. France calls on India to sign this treaty."

Source: Foreign Ministry Daily Press Briefing, 12 May.

Remarks by Government Spokesperson Daniel Vaillant, 13 May

"The French Government does not encourage the Americans to pursue sanctions because this is surely not the right method for attempting to assure that India joins those nations wishing to sign the non-proliferation treaties..."

Source: France opposes US sanctions on India over tests, Reuters, 13 May.


Statement by the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, 12 May

"Following yesterday's nuclear tests by India...the Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Carl-Dieter Spranger, has called off the Government talks with India on development policy... India has been a focal point of German development work over the last 40 years. German concerns over the relationship between development expenditure and military expenditure...have repeatedly been an obstacle in the political dialogue between India and Germany."

Source: Germany calls off aid talks with India, Reuters, 12 May.

Statement by Ambassador Gunther Seibert to the CD, 14 May

"The German Government calls upon the Indian Government to live up to its great responsibility for peace and stability in the region and to do everything in its power to support the international nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. The Non-Proliferation Treaty must be applied universally. India must not stay away from it forever. We appeal to India to sign the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty now so that nuclear tests will become a thing of the past once and for all. We call upon India to enter into a concrete security dialogue with its neighbours in order to avert the threat of a nuclear arms race in the region. We urgently appeal to India's neighbours, for their part, to exercise restraint.

Recent events have shown how important the efforts aimed at further substantial steps in the direction of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are."


Comment by Al-Thawra newspaper, 17 May

"We cannot see how anyone can ask India not to develop nuclear weapons and its long-range missiles at a time [when] it is like any other big State with its human and scientific potential... When superpowers give themselves the right to conduct nuclear tests and keep huge arsenals of nuclear bombs they lure other countries to follow suit, overtly or covertly..."

Source: Iraq says India has nuclear right, Associated Press, 17 May.


Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanezo Muraoka, 12 May

"It is extremely regrettable that India conducted such testing, resisting the global trend to ban nuclear testing, while the international community including Japan has repeatedly requested the new Government of India to [exercise] maximum self-restraint on nuclear policies. Japan strongly urges [India] stop its development of nuclear weapons immediately."

Source: Press Conference by the Press Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 May.

Statement to the CD by Ambassador Akira Hayashi, 14 May

"India conducted, in spite of earnest appeals from every corner of the globe, two more nuclear tests on 13 May. These actions run directly counter to the global aims of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons and the ban on nuclear testing. It is said that these explosions completed a series of tests but the damage caused by them and their ultimate effects on the goals of international disarmament are immeasurable. ...

The Japanese peoples' feelings and opposition to the nuclear tests are reflected in the resolution adopted by the Upper House of the Japanese Diet on 13 May. The resolution states...that the entire country of Japan, being the only country in the world to have suffered nuclear devastation, profoundly regrets the nuclear tests and strongly appeals to the Indian Government to halt immediately its nuclear weapons programme. ...

Having made Japan's unequivocal opposition against nuclear testing clear, I would like to emphasize that the Indian nuclear tests should in no way be seen as an impediment to our work in the CD. Instead, we should learn from them and work even harder towards the goal of global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation."



Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan is authorised to state that Kazakhstan views with deep concern the announcement of the conduct on 11 May 1998 of underground tests of three nuclear devices at the Pokhran test site in India. That action endangers the progress in the sphere of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation that has emerged since the indefinite extension of the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The conduct of the nuclear tests by India will lead to the escalation of tension in the region. Kazakhstan is of the view that the conditions put forward by India regarding accession to the CTBT should only be discussed through negotiations aimed at achieving mutually acceptable solutions to the existing problems in the sphere of nuclear disarmament.

The republic of Kazakhstan calls on India to renounce the nuclear "option" and to confirm its aspiration to the achievement of safe and stable peace, global partnership and economic development.

Astana, 13 May 1998.


Foreign Ministry statement, 12 May

"Malaysia deplores the underground nuclear tests... The action by India is a serious setback to keep[ing] the region free of nuclear weapons and undermines the efforts of the international community towards attaining a complete ban on nuclear testing... Malaysia is particularly disappointed that India has taken such a step in the light of the overwhelming adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty...

Malaysia calls on India to cease developing its capability to produce nuclear weapons immediately. Malaysia further urges all countries in the region to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from action that could further heighten tension in the region. It is hoped that all countries would actively participate in international efforts aimed at achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

... Malaysia further underlines the need for nuclear-weapon States to demonstrate stronger commitment to the goals of nuclear disarmament and the ultimate elimination of these weapons through a programmed reduction and elimination of their nuclear arsenals."

Source: Foreign Ministry statement delivered to the CD by Ahmad Jazri Mohammed Jahar, 14 May.


Remarks by President Boris Yeltsin, 12 May

"[India is] a friendly country with which we have good relations. During my visit to India later this year I will try to solve this problem. ... India has let us down with its explosions but I think that by diplomatic means... we should bring about a change in its position."

Source: Yeltsin regrets Indian nuclear test, United Press International, 12 May.

Remarks by Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, 12 May

"We will not support sanctions. ...We plan to use our special relationship with India, and our influence there."

Sources: Yeltsin regrets Indian nuclear test, United Press International, 12 May; Yeltsin condemns India N-tests, urges diplomacy, Reuters, 12 May..

South Africa

Foreign Ministry Statement, 13 May

"The South African Government is deeply concerned [by the tests]... As a matter of principle South Africa opposes all nuclear tests since they do not contribute to promoting world peace and security. South Africa believes that security is provided by nuclear disarmament rather than by nuclear proliferation. South Africa repeats the hope that these tests do not result in an arms race in South Asia."

Source: South African Foreign Ministry web-site, gopher://


Remarks by Prime Minister Goran Persson, 11 May

"This is totally unacceptable... I am dismayed over the nuclear weapons test. This gives India very bad international attention."

Source: Denmark freezes aid to India over nuclear blasts, Reuters, 12 May.

Statement by Foreign Aid Minister Pierre Schori, 13 May

"It is tragic and frightening that a country with as many poor people as India chooses to invest large resources in developing weapons of mass destruction..."

Source: Sweden cuts aid to India to protest nuclear tests, Reuters, 13 May.


Foreign Ministry Statement, 12 May

"This event [has] caused great concern in Ukraine... Our country, its population having suffered from the horrible consequences of...radioactive contamination, proceeds from the fact that any defence or security concerns [or the] national interests of whatever country in the world could not justify the resumption of nuclear explosion testing.

Ukraine, which at one time voluntarily eliminated the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world and committed itself not to carry out nuclear testing, condemns this step made by India, which endangers the existing international arrangements in nuclear weapon non-proliferation.

Ukraine calls upon [the] Governments of India and other countries to cooperate more actively in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and redouble their efforts to achieve [the] complete elimination of nuclear weapons."

Source: Foreign Ministry statement delivered to the CD by Ambassador Mykola Maimeskul, 14 May.

United Kingdom

Statement to Parliament by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, 14 May

"The recent nuclear tests by India undermine the efforts of the international community to prevent nuclear proliferation and may encourage other States who wish to do the same. Nor will these tests help the security of India. An increase in tension in the region cannot be in the interests of India, and the escalation of an arms race in the Sub-Continent cannot help tackle the poverty in which millions of its people live. The sharp reaction by China demonstrates the danger that such tests will increase danger rather than strengthen security. ...

[W]e regret and condemn these nuclear tests. Britain is a leading advocate of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We firmly believe that their provisions provide Britain and all members of the international community with the strongest basis for confidence in their international security. Nobody's long-term interest are secured by encouraging the spread of nuclear weapons. ..."

Source: Statement by the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Robin Cook, House of Commons, London, Thursday 14 May 1998, Foreign & Commonwealth Office website,

United States

Remarks by President Clinton, 12 May

"I want to make it very, very clear that I am deeply disturbed by the nuclear tests which India has conducted, and I do not believe it contributes to building a safer 21st Century... This action by India not only threatens the stability of the region, it directly challenges the firm international consensus to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction... I...urge India's neighbours not to follow suit - not to follow down the path of a dangerous arms race... [O]ur laws have very stringent provisions, signed into law by me in 1994, in response to nuclear tests by non-nuclear-weapon States - and I intend to implement them fully."

Source: Clinton condemns India nuclear tests, Reuters, 12 May.

Remarks by President Clinton, 17 May

"The Russians and the Americans, we're trying to lower our nuclear arsenals. we're trying to make this problem go away for the world and we do not need to have a whole lot of other people with small nuclear arsenals on the assumption that they'll never be used, you can't do that."

Source: Berger sees possible lift of ban on military aid to Pakistan, United States Information Service, 17 May.

Radio Address by President Clinton, 16 May

"India's neighbours can set a strong example of responsibility for the world by not yielding to pressure to follow India's example and conduct their own nuclear tests. ... We have an opportunity to leave behind the darkest moments of the 20th Century and embrace the most brilliant possibilities of the 21st. To do it we must walk away from nuclear weapons, not toward them."

Source: 'Radio Address by the President to the Nation,' The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 16 May.

White House Statement on Sanctions, 13 May

"On Wednesday 13 May, 1998, the President reported to Congress that he had imposed sanctions on India as a consequence of that country's 11 May nuclear test explosion. These sanctions were required by Section 102 of the Arms Export Control Act, otherwise known as the Glenn Amendment. The sanctions imposed are as follows:

Finally, the Secretary of State is making a similar determination under Section 2 (b) (4) of the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945; thereafter, the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank may not give approval to guarantee, insure, or extend credit, or participate in the extension of credit in support of United States exports to India."

Source: India Sanctions, Statement by White House Press Secretary, 13 May.

Remarks by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 20 May

"The leaders in New Delhi have made a grave historical error... India's rash action is sure to heighten security tensions throughout southern Asia. And other nations may be tempted to follow India's wrongheaded example. ... [However,] if Pakistan's leaders do not test, they will defy India's expectations and foil India's desire to drag Pakistan's world-standing down."

Source: US urges India to sign Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, United States Information Service, 20 May.

Statement by Jesse Helms, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 13 May

"I am astonished that the Indian Government was able to catch the US intelligence capability sound asleep at the switch, revealing the stark reality that the Clinton Administration's six-year cosying up to India has been a foolhardy and perilous substitute for common sense. ...

Even so, the Indian Government has not shot itself in the foot - it has most likely shot itself in the head. ... The Indian Government has deluded itself into the absurd assumption that the possession of nuclear weapons will make Indian 'a superpower,' at a time when hundreds of millions of India's people are in poverty. ...

Additionally, India's actions demonstrate that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty..., from a non-proliferation standpoint, is scarcely more than a sham. I hope that the Clinton Administration has learned from its mistakes sufficiently to refuse to allow India to paper over its actions by signing the CTBT. I, for one, cannot and will not agree to any treaty which would legitimise de facto India's possession of these weapons, just so long as they are not caught testing them. ...

India's nuclear testing is compelling, additional evidence pointing to the need for a national missile defense to protect the United States. ... Finally, India's actions underscore how vital the US nuclear deterrent is to our security. What is needed, at this time, is not a scramble for an arms control treaty that prohibits the United States from guaranteeing the safety of the American people and the reliability of its nuclear stockpile."

Source: Text - Senator Helms statement on India's nuclear test, United States Information Service, 13 May.

Remarks by Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House of Representatives, 13 May

"I think it's a very one-sided position by this Administration, and if he's going to apply [sanctions]...he ought to apply it to China as much as he applies it to India... I don't know to what extent [the tests are]...the Indian reaction to the Clinton Administration selling missile technology to China. The Indians are much more worried about China than they are about Pakistan. ... I'm curious about his [Clinton's] one-sided imbalance, this anti-Indian bias, and this willingness to forgive the Chinese anything... You've had a one-sided policy that a Chinese dictatorship is OK, an Indian democracy doesn't seem acceptable... And I think that there has been a great overreaction by Clinton."

Source: Gingrich says Clinton India policy 'one-sided', Reuters, 13 May.

Other Reaction

Statement by the Dalai Lama, 14 May

"We have to make every effort for the elimination of nuclear weapons... However, the assumption of the concept that [a] few nations are OK to possess nuclear weapons and the rest of the world should not - that's undemocratic."

Source: India plans no more nuclear tests, Associated Press, 14 May.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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