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India and Pakistan Statements to the United Nations General Assembly, September 1998

South Asia Nuclear Crisis - Special Feature

Statement by India

Speech by Prime Minster Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 24 September

"In the closing years of the 20th century, the challenge of nuclear disarmament is another of the priorities facing the international community. We have successfully prohibited chemical and biological weapons in recent decades. The present century has witnessed the development and the tragic use of nuclear weapons. We must ensure that the legacy of this weapon of mass destruction is not carried into the next century.

For the last half-century, India has consistently pursued the objectives of international peace along with equal and legitimate security for all through global disarmament. These concepts are among the basic tenets of our national security. India has, over the years, sought to enhance its notional security by promoting global nuclear disarmament, convinced that a world free of nuclear weapons enhances both global and India’s national security.

The negotiations on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty began in 1993 with a mandate that such a treaty would ‘contribute effectively to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in all aspects, to the process of nuclear disarmament and therefore, to the enhancement of international peace and security’. India participated actively and constructively in the negotiations, and sought to place the Treaty in a disarmament framework by proposing its linkage with a time-bound program for the universal elimination of all nuclear weapons.

It is a matter of history that India’s proposals were not accepted. The treaty, as it emerged, was not accepted by India on grounds of national security. We made explicit our objection that despite our stand having been made clear, the treaty text made India’s signature and ratification a pre-condition for its entry into force.

Mindful of its deteriorating security environment which has obliged us to stand apart from the CTBT in 1996. India undertook a limited series of five underground tests, conducted on 11 and 13 May, 1998. These tests were essential for ensuring a credible nuclear deterrent for India’s national security in the foreseeable future.

These tests do not signal a dilution of India’s commitment to the pursuit of global nuclear disarmament. Accordingly, after concluding this limited testing program, India announced a voluntary moratorium on further underground nuclear test explosions. We conveyed our willingness to move towards a de jure formalization of this obligation. In announcing a moratorium, India has already accepted the basic obligation of the CTBT. In 1996, India could not have accepted the obligation as such a restraint would have eroded our capability and compromised our national security.

Mr. President, India, having harmonized its national imperatives and security obligations and desirous of continuing to cooperate with the international community 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. We expect that other countries, as indicated in Article XIV of the CTBT, will adhere to this Treaty without conditions.

After protracted discussions, the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva is now in a position to begin negotiations on a treaty that will prohibit the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Once again, we are conscious that this is a partial step. Such a treaty, as and when it is concluded and enters into force, will not eliminate existing nuclear arsenals. Yet, we will participate in these negotiations in good faith in order to ensure a treaty that is non-discriminatory and meets India’s security imperatives. India will pay serious attention to any other multilateral initiatives in this area, during the course of the negotiations in the CD.

As a responsible State committed to non-proliferation, India has undertaken that it shall not transfer these weapons or related know-how to other countries. We have an effective system of export controls and shall make it more stringent where necessary, including by expanding control lists of equipment and technology to make them more contemporary and effective in the context of a nuclear India. At the same time, as a developing country, we are conscious that nuclear technology has a number of peaceful applications and we shall continue to cooperate actively with other countries in this regard, in keeping with our international responsibilities.

A few weeks ago, at the Non-Aligned Summit in Durban, India proposed and the Movement agreed that an international conference be held, preferably in 1999, with the objective of arriving at an agreement, before the end of this millennium on a phased program for the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. I, call upon, all members of the international community, and particularly the other nuclear-weapon States to join in this endeavor. Let us pledge that when we assemble here in the new millennium, it shall be to welcome the commitment that mankind shall never again be subjected to the use of threat of use of nuclear weapons."

Source: Government of India web-site,

Statement by Pakistan

Speech by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, 23 September

"This year the nuclear cloud has cast its dark shadow over South Asia. Our neighbour, India, has always perceived nuclear weapons as the key to great power status and a permanent seat on the Security Council. Thirty years ago, we warned the world that India would develop nuclear weapons. Our warnings were ignored. When India conducted its first explosion in 1974, the reaction of the major powers was to impose restraints against Pakistan. We felt compelled to acquire a matching capability. Yet, even after we had done so, Pakistan continued to promote a nuclear weapons free zone, conventional arms restraint and a zero-missile-zone in South Asia, India rejected all these initiatives.

India’s nuclear tests in May should not have come as a surprise to the world. We had warned the world several weeks before the tests. Even after India conducted its tests, the response of the major powers was weak and ambiguous. Once again, greater energy was devoted to restraining Pakistan than in responding to India. Immediately after its nuclear tests, India’s leaders adopted a belligerent posture towards Pakistan. They told us that the geo-strategic balance had changed and Pakistan should abandon its principled support for Kashmiri self-determination. Pakistan faced the threat of force. We felt compelled to convince India that any military aggression against Pakistan would have the most disastrous consequences.

The world must appreciate that Pakistan did not initiate the tests. India tested to alter the strategic balance and threatened our security and sovereignty. We waited for 17 days for the world to respond. We knew that no country could provide us security assurances against a nuclear India. Thus circumstances forced us to test and establish nuclear deterrence in self defence. We have violated no international norm. Regrettably, some friendly countries have imposed sanctions and other restrictions against Pakistan. These are unjust. I ask the international community to determine who is in the wrong, and why should Pakistan be subjected to punitive measures? Pakistan’s nuclear tests were conducted not to challenge the existing non-proliferation regime, nor to fulfil any great power ambition. They were designed to prevent the threat or use of force against Pakistan. Our tests in response to India thus served the cause of peace and stability in our region.

We are not insensitive to the concerns aroused by the South Asian nuclear tests. Despite the transformed strategic situation, we remain opposed to an arms race, nuclear or conventional. We have announced a unilateral moratorium on testing. We are prepared to strengthen peace and stability in the region by mutually agreed measures to avoid a war, to create a regime for nuclear restraint and conventional balance and to promote solutions to the underlying causes of conflict in particular the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. We will discuss these issues with India when our dialogue commences. We are also engaged in a dialogue with several friendly countries to advance these objectives. Pakistan has never contributed to nuclear proliferation. We will continue to adhere strictly to our policy of not exporting sensitive technologies and equipment.

Pakistan has consistently supported the conclusion of a CTBT for over 30 years. We voted for the Treaty when it was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1996. We have declared a moratorium on further testing; so has India. There is no reason why the two countries cannot adhere to the CTBT. In a nuclearized South Asia, CTBT would have relevance if Pakistan and India are both parties to the Treaty. The Non-Aligned Summit has called for universal adherence to the CTBT, specially by the nuclear-weapon States.

This demand is consistent with the Treaty’s requirement, that all nuclear capable States, including India, must adhere to the CTBT before it can come into force, Pakistan will oppose, any attempt to change this fundamental requirement at the Conference of States Parties to the treaty scheduled to be held in September 1999. Such a change can only be made by consensus. Pakistan is, therefore, prepared to adhere to the CTBT before this Conference. However, Pakistan’s adherence to the Treaty will take place only in conditions free from coercion or pressure. In this regard, we expect that the arbitrary restrictions imposed on Pakistan by multilateral institutions will be speedily removed. We also expect that discriminatory sanctions against Pakistan will be lifted. And we count on the full support of the world community for a just resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. On the nuclear issue, Pakistan will insist on the principle of equal treatment with India, be it in terms of status or any kind of incentives. It must also be well understood that if India were to resume nuclear testing, Pakistan will review its position, and in case we have adhered to the CTBT, invoke the supreme interests clause as provided under Article Nine of the Treaty.

Nuclear deterrence between Pakistan and India will remain fragile and dangerous so long as there is a growing imbalance in conventional forces. This needs to be redressed. Above all, durable peace between Pakistan and India - and restraint in their military postures - will be, as always, critically dependent on the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute which has been the root cause of all conflicts and tensions between Pakistan and India. ...

My government is committed to resolving our problems with India through dialogue. This is all the more important in a nuclear environment in which neither side has the luxury to contemplate the use of force. In June 1997, we had agreed with India on an eight item agenda and a mechanism for the dialogue. Unfortunately, the dialogue was interrupted due to differences over modalities. I am, however, happy to say that, in a meeting which concluded a short while ago, Prime Minster Vajpayee and I have reached an agreement to resume the dialogue with the commencement of Foreign Secretary level talks, which will address at the outset, the primary issues of peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir."

Source: Associated Press of Pakistan, 23 September.

International Reaction

United Nations

Statement by Secretary-General, 24 September

"I commend, with great satisfaction, the announcement by the Prime Minister of India today of his Government’s readiness to successfully conclude their ongoing discussions on the CTBT so that the entry into force of the Treaty - for which the ratification of 44 States, including India, is necessary - is not delayed beyond September 1999. Following the announcement made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan yesterday, India’s statement increases the momentum for implementing, under international law, the ban on the testing of nuclear explosive devices in all environments.

It is also most gratifying to note that both States are participating in the negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. These are encouraging developments for the world’s progress towards nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation.

I am also happy to note the announcement by the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan of their intention to resume their dialogue and seek a peaceful solution to their bilateral problems, including Kashmir. I am encouraged by the desire expressed by both leaders to make every effort to remove the sources of tension in their relations."

Source: United Nations Press Release SG/SM/6717/Rev.1;D CF/350/Rev.1

United States

Statement by President Clinton, 24 September

"Two years ago today, I was proud to be the first world leader to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) - first proposed by President Eisenhower over 40 years ago. Since then, 150 States have signed this historic treaty, including all of our NATO allies, Russia, China, Israel, Japan and South Korea. Twenty States already have ratified the CTBT including Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Brazil. It is my strong hope that India and Pakistan will join the list, and thereby reduce nuclear tensions in South Asia. I discussed this with Prime Minister Sharif on Monday [21 September] and I welcome his commitment yesterday to adhere to the treaty by next fall. I look forward to further discussion with the leaders of Pakistan and India as we emphasize our common obligation to build peace and stability.

Today also marks the 35th anniversary of the Senate bipartisan vote, 80 to 19, to approve the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), which President Kennedy considered his greatest accomplishment as President. In 1963, Senate approval of the LTBT took place less than two months after it was signed and within seven weeks of its submission to the Senate. Contrast that with the CTBT. A year after it was submitted, the Senate has yet to take any action toward ratification.

The CTBT will ban all nuclear weapons explosions. As a result, it will constrain the development of more sophisticated and powerful nuclear weapons and give us a powerful new tool in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The American people understand that Senate approval of the CTBT is the right thing to do. I strongly urge the Senate to give its advice and consent as early as possible next year."

Source: Text - Clinton Statement on Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, United States Information Service, 24 September.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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