South Asia Nuclear Crisis - Special Feature
Comment by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, 28 May
"Today we have settled the score with India."
Source: Defiant Sharif prepares for fallout, United Press International, 28 May
'Text of Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif at a Press Conference on Pakistan Nuclear Tests,' Islamabad, 28 May 1998; text carried by Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), 29 May, available on the Government of Pakistan web-site http://www.pak.gov.pk
"Pakistan today successfully tested five nuclear tests. The results were as expected. There was no release of radioactivity. I congratulate all Pakistani scientists, engineers and technicians for their dedicated teamwork and expertise in mastering complex and advanced technologies. The entire nation takes justifiable pride in the accomplishments of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. A. Q. Khan Research Laboratories and all affiliated organisations. They have demonstrated Pakistan's ability to deter aggression. Pakistan has been obliged to exercise the nuclear option due to the weaponisation of India's nuclear programme. This had led to the collapse of the 'existential deterrence' and had radically altered the strategic balance in our region.
Immediately after its nuclear tests, India has brazenly raised the demand that 'Islamabad should realise the change in the geo-strategic situation in the region' and threatened that 'India will deal firmly and strongly with Pakistan'.
Our security, and peace and stability of the entire region was thus gravely threatened. As a self-respecting nation we had no choice left to us. Our hand was forced by the present Indian leadership's reckless actions.
After due deliberations and a careful review of all options, we took the decision to restore the strategic balance. The nation would not have accepted anything less from its leadership. For the past three decades, Pakistan repeatedly drew the attention of the international community to India's incremental steps on the nuclear and ballistic ladder. Our warnings remained unheeded. Despite the continuing deterioration in Pakistan's security environment, we exercised utmost restraint. We pursued in all earnest the goal of non-proliferation in South Asia. Our initiatives to keep South Asia free of nuclear and ballistic weapon systems were spurned. The international response to the Indian nuclear tests did not factor the security situation in our region. While asking us to exercise restraint, powerful voices urged acceptance of the Indian weaponisation as a fait accompli. Pakistan's legitimate security concerns were not addressed, even after the threat of use of nuclear weapons and nuclear blackmail. We could not have ignored the magnitude of the threat.
Under no circumstances would the Pakistani nation compromise on matters pertaining to its life and existence. Our decision to exercise the nuclear option has been taken in the interest of national self defence. These weapons are to deter aggression, whether nuclear or conventional. Pakistan will continue to support the goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, especially in the Conference on Disarmament, bearing in mind the new realities. We are undertaking a re-evaluation of the applicability and relevance of the global non-proliferation regimes to nuclearized South Asia. We are ready to engage in a constructive dialogue with other countries, especially major powers, on ways and means to promoting these goals in the new circumstances. Pakistan has always acted with utmost restraint and responsibility. We would continue to do so in the future. We are prepared to resume Pakistan-India dialogue to address all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as peace and security. These should include urgent steps for mutual restraint and equitable measures for nuclear stabilisation. Pakistan has already offered a non-aggression pact to India on the basis of a just settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. I would like to reiterate this offer.
We have instituted effective command and control structures. We are fully conscious of the need to handle these weapon systems with the highest sense of responsibility. We have not and will not transfer sensitive technologies to other States or entities. At the same time, Pakistan will oppose all unjust embargoes aimed at preventing it from exercising its right to develop various technologies for self defence or peaceful purposes. I would like to again assure all countries that our nuclear weapon systems are meant only for self defence and there should be no apprehension or concern in this regard.
The Pakistani people are united in their resolve to safeguard, at all costs, Pakistan's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. I would like to congratulate the nation on the achievements of our scientists and engineers. They have made it possible for the people of Pakistan to enter the next century with confidence in themselves and faith in their destiny."
Remarks by Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed, 30 May
"After successfully conducting five nuclear tests on 28 May, 1998, Pakistan completed the current series by another test today. There was one, repeat one, conducted today...
As a responsible nation whose record of restraint and responsibility is impeccable, Pakistan today assures the international community and in particular India of our willingness to enter into immediate discussions to address all matters of peace and security, including urgent measures to prevent the dangers of nuclear conflagration. ...
The Prime Minister has also reaffirmed his Government's determination to resume Pakistan-India dialogue to address all outstanding issues including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir as well as peace and security... We are prepared to enter into discussions with India for taking all steps that are necessary to ensure mutual restraint and nuclear stabilisation in our region..."
Source: Defiant Pakistan stages new nuclear test, Reuters, 30 May.
Remarks by Foreign Minister, 31 May
Remarks to the BBC by Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan, 31 May "Having tested our nuclear devices, a total of six so far, and also our missiles, which have an optimum range of approximately 1,500 km [900 miles], it puts us now slightly ahead of the Indian nuclear missile capability. ..."
Editor's note: on 29 May,the Pakistan Defence Ministry announced that it had conducted a test flight of a ballistic missile, the Shaheen, believed to have a maximum range of 1,500 km. The missile was launched at 6.15 a.m., 29 May, at a site near the city of Jhelum in Baluchistan.
Sources: Pakistan tests long-range missile, United Press International, 29 May; Pakistan leads India in nuclear ability - Minister, Reuters, 31 May.
Remarks to CNN by Gohar Ayub Khan, 31 May
"[T]here is very little reliance on India's words or actions because I have credible evidence that they are already in the process of preparing a new test site in the State of Orissa to blast somewhere in the first or second week of July."
Source: India ponders next move as Pakistan settles score, Reuters, 29 May.
Interview with Chief Weapons Scientist, 31 May
'An exclusive interview with Abdul Qadeer Khan, the head of Pakistan's nuclear programme,' The Observer newspaper (UK), 31 May
"Question: 'Has Pakistan smuggled components for its nuclear programme?'
Dr. Khan: 'No country can make everything. You have a concept, make a design and then buy whatever is cheap from wherever. If unnecessary restrictions are placed on you, you shop in the open market. ...'
Question: 'What did Pakistan achieve from these tests?'
Dr. Khan: 'This has been a successful nuclear explosion by all definitions. It was exactly as we had planned and the results were as good as we hoped.'
Question: 'Were they fission or fusion devices?'
Dr. Khan: 'They were all boosted fission devices using uranium 235. We have been manufacturing this at Kahuta for up to 19 years. The first enrichment was done on 4 April, 1978. The plant was made operational in 1979, and by 1981 we were producing substantial quantities of uranium. Until 1982-83 we were producing low-enriched uranium, and from 1983 weapons-grade uranium which is more than 90% enriched.'
Question: 'How does your programme compare with India's?'
Dr. Khan: 'They have used an old technology of plutonium from spent fuel, whereas we have used enriched uranium, which is a much more sophisticated and safe process.'
Question: 'What was the total yield of the tests?'
Dr. Khan: 'One was a big bomb which had a yield of 30-35 kilotonnes, twice as big as the one dropped on Hiroshima. The other four were small tactical weapons of low yield. None of the
e explosions was thermo-nuclear. But we can do a fusion blast if asked.' Question: 'When were you first able to explode a nuclear device?'
Dr. Khan: 'At the end of 1984. Pakistan never wanted to make nuclear weapons. It was forced to do so. The Indian nuclear explosion in 1974 brought [about] a qualitative change. ...'"
Statement to the CD, 28 May
Statement by Ambassador Munir Akram, 28 May 1998
Editor's note: Ambassador Akram's statement was delivered a few hours before Pakistan's 28 May tests were announced.
"[A]t the last two sessions of this Conference, Pakistan has been obliged to take the floor and to draw attention to the grave implications of India's nuclear-weapon tests, as well as the accompanying escalatory actions and declarations of the Hindu fundamentalist Government in New Delhi, its declaration of India as a nuclear-weapon State, its decision to proceed with nuclear weaponization, its declaration of the right to use nuclear weapons and its threat of the use of force against Pakistan, especially across the Line of Control in Kashmir. In this context...I would like to read into the records of this Conference the text of a press statement which was issued in the early hours of this morning, 28 May, and I quote:
'In the wake of the Indian nuclear tests, we have been receiving information of the possibility of attacks on our nuclear installations. The purpose behind this action would be to prevent us from taking an appropriate decision in our supreme national interest. Last night we received credible information that an attack was to be mounted before dawn. We were fully prepared to meet any eventuality in our defence. Immediate messages were transmitted to Washington and other Permanent Members of the Security Council. The Indian High Commissioner was summoned to the Foreign Office at 1 a.m. Pakistan time and told clearly that any attack on our nuclear facilities would be in violation of our existing agreement against attack on such facilities. He was asked to convey to New Delhi that we expected the Indian Government to desist from any irresponsible act. Any such act would warrant a swift and massive retaliation with unforeseen circumstances. The Secretary-General of the United Nations was also immediately informed and requested to counsel restraint to New Delhi.' ...
Mr. President, on behalf of my Government, I would like to urge the members of the Conference on Disarmament to also counsel restraint on the Government of India. We wish to caution that India's aggressive behaviour could lead to disastrous consequences. They must pull back from the brink.
Mr. President, Pakistan has exercised restraint. Whether or not Pakistan responds in kind to India's nuclear explosions, it should be noted that Pakistan has not claimed that it wants to become a nuclear-weapon State. We have not threatened to weaponize our nuclear capability. We have not threatened to use force, whether conventional or non-conventional. It is clear that the non-proliferation regime has been significantly eroded by the Indian actions. The NPT recognizes five nuclear-weapon States. Do the parties to the NPT, the Permanent Members of the Security Council and others accept India's proclamation of itself as a nuclear-weapon State? Until India's nuclear status is clarified and established, until this happens, Pakistan cannot be expected to negotiate or accept additional instruments for non-proliferation. Until India's nuclear status has been clarified, any proposal for the opening of FMCT negotiations, or for the signature of the CTBT by other States, will be redundant and irrelevant. If being asked to join any treaty, we must know how many nuclear-weapon States will be its parties. If India signed the CTBT or joins the FMCT, will [it] do so as a nuclear-weapon State or as a non-nuclear-weapon State? We should know whether India will have the option to join these treaties as a nuclear-weapon State, as India is claiming, or only as a non-nuclear-weapon State.
The answers to these questions...are not clear today. The answers will depend on what the international community decides in its response to India's claim to having become a nuclear-weapon State. Some voices unfortunately want to accept the fait accompli created by India's tests and declarations. Will this also be the answer of the international community? That...is the central question - not whether or not Pakistan decides to demonstrate its nuclear capability in reaction to India's provocative nuclear testing and its aggressive behaviour. This question must be answered if progress is to be made on various nuclear items on our agenda. Until then, to raise these questions and to press these in this hall would be a waste of time. We should focus on the real problem and not on irrelevant issues."
© 1998 The Acronym Institute.
Return to top of page
Return to List of Contents
Return to Acronym Main Page