Return to List of Contents

India and Pakistan Nuclear Tests: Statements to a Special Session of the CD, 2 June 1998

South Asia Nuclear Crisis - Special Feature

Statement by India

Statement by Ambassador Savitri Kunadi

"I have requested the floor today to read into the records the extracts from the suo moto statement made by the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, before the Indian Parliament on 27 May, 1998. ... I quote:

'... In 1947, when India emerged as a free country to take its rightful place in the comity of nations, the nuclear age had already dawned. Our leaders then took the crucial decision to opt for self-reliance, and freedom of thought and action. We rejected the Cold War paradigm and chose the more difficult path of non-alignment. Our leaders also realised that a nuclear-weapon-free-world would enhance not only India's security but also the security of all nations. That is why disarmament was and continues to be a major plank in our foreign policy.

During the 50's India took the lead in calling for an end to all nuclear weapon testing. Addressing the Lok Sabha on 2 April, 1954, Pt. Jawaharlal, to whose memory we pay homage today, stated 'nuclear, chemical and biological energy and power should not be used to forge weapons of mass destruction'. He called for negotiations for prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and in the interim, a standstill agreement to halt nuclear testing. This call was not heeded.

In 1965, along with a small group of non-aligned countries, India put forward the idea of an international non-proliferation agreement under which the nuclear-weapon States would agree to give up their arsenals provided other countries refrained from developing or acquiring such weapons. This balance of rights and obligations was not accepted. In the 60's our security concerns deepened. The country sought security guarantees but the countries we turned to were unable to extend to us the expected assurances. As a result, we made it clear that we would not be able to sign the NPT.

The Lok Sabha debated the issue on 5 April, 1968. Prime Minister...Indira Gandhi assured the House that 'we shall be guided entirely by our self-enlightenment and the considerations of national security'. This was a turning point and this House strengthened the decision of the then Government by reflecting a national consensus.

Our decision not to sign the NPT was in keeping with our basic objectives. In 1974, we demonstrated our nuclear capability. Successive Governments thereafter have taken all necessary steps in keeping with that resolve and national will, to safeguard India's nuclear option. This was the primary reason behind the 1996 decision for not signing the CTBT, a decision that also enjoyed consensus of this House.

The decades of the 80's and 90's had meanwhile witnessed the gradual deterioration of our security environment as a result of nuclear and missile proliferation. In our neighbourhood, nuclear weapons had increased and more sophisticated delivery systems inducted. In addition, India has also been the victim of externally aided and abetted terrorism, militancy and clandestine war.

At a global level, we see no evidence on the part of the nuclear-weapon States to take decisive and irreversible steps in moving towards a nuclear-weapon-free-world. Instead, we have seen that the NPT has been extended indefinitely and unconditionally, perpetuating the existence of nuclear weapons in the hands of the five countries.

Under such circumstances, the Government was faced with a difficult decision. The touchstone that has guided us in making the correct choice clear was national security. These tests are a continuation of the policies set into motion that put this country on the path of self-reliance and independence of thought and action.

India is now a nuclear-weapon State. This is a reality that cannot be denied. It is not a conferment that we seek; nor is it a status for others to grant. It is an endowment to the nation by our scientists and engineers. It is India's due, the right of one-sixth of human-kind. Our strengthened capability adds to our sense of responsibility. We do not intend to use these weapons for aggression or for mounting threats against any country; these are weapons of self-defence, to ensure that India is not subjected to nuclear threats or coercion. We do not intend to engage in an arms race.

We had taken a number of initiatives in the past. We regret that these proposals did not receive a positive response from other nuclear-weapon States. In fact, had their response been positive, we need not have gone in for our current testing programme. We have been and will continue to be in the forefront of the calls for opening negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, so that this challenge can be dealt with in the same manner that we have dealt with the scourge of two other weapons of mass destruction-through the Biological Weapons Convention and Chemical Weapons Convention.

Traditionally, India has been an outward looking country. Our strong commitment of multilateralism is reflected in our active participation in organisations like the United Nations. This engagement will continue. The policies of economic liberalisation introduced in recent years have increased our regional and global linkages and my Government intends to deepen and strengthen these ties.

Our nuclear policy has been marked by restraint and openness. We have not violated any international agreement either in 1974 or now, in 1998. The restraint exercised for 24 years, after having demonstrated our capability in 1974, is in itself a unique example. Restraint, however, has to arise from strength. It cannot be based upon indecision or doubt. The series of tests recently undertaken by India have led to the removal of doubts. The action involved was balanced in that it was the minimum necessary to maintain what is an irreducible component of our national security calculus.

Subsequently, Government has already announced that India will now observe a voluntary moratorium and refrain from conducting underground nuclear test explosions. We have also indicated willingness to move towards a de jure formalisation of this declaration. ...' Unquote...

India's commitment to the moratorium was reiterated by [the] Prime Minister in his statement to the Indian Parliament on 29 May, a day after the Pakistani test. The Prime Minister of India also reiterated on engaging in negotiation on FMCT, undertaking stringent export controls on nuclear and missile related technologies as well as those related to other weapons of mass destruction and 'no-first-use' agreement with Pakistan, as also with other countries bilaterally, or in a multilateral form.

The logic and rationale of India's approaches, which have been set out by me in the Statement, have been vindicated by Pakistan's nuclear tests. These tests have established what has been known all along - that Pakistan has been in possession of nuclear weapons. The clandestine nature of their programme is well documented. It is relevant to note in this context that the transborder terrorism promoted, aided and abetted against India for the last ten years by Pakistan has a component of its nuclear capability. India has been a victim of this terrorism which must end.

Let me turn now to our concerns relating to peace and security in our region. These concerns have increased as India's security environment has become complicated with the accumulation of nuclear weapons and missiles in our neighbourhood. The improvements in the security environment in the West have not been replicated in our region. On the other hand, Pakistan's approach has always been Indo-Centric as has been made abundantly clear by the justification they have sought to give for their test.

India is committed to the maintenance of peace and security in our region and beyond. Our perspectives on security issues are global in range and scope. Such concerns are natural for a country like India, the home of one-sixth of humanity. India's security concerns cannot be relegated to South Asia alone.

We have pursued a policy of maintaining security and stability in our region and of striving for the enlargement of friendly and cooperative relations with our neighbours. With our neighbour to the West, Pakistan, we have always sought to develop a relationship of friendship and cooperation based on mutual respect and regard for each other's concerns. We have sought ways of enhancing cooperation and of addressing all issues including those on which the two countries do not see eye-to-eye. For this purpose, we have always been ready to pursue the path of comprehensive, constructive and sustained bilateral dialogue. The process of dialogue was reinstated at India's initiative. The two sides have engaged in the process of framing the modalities of dialogue and our suggestion[s] in this regard were given to Pakistan in January 1998. We await their response. An important part of our policy towards Pakistan is the promotion of confidence-building measures between the two countries. Several measures in this regard have been made by us. These include an agreement on the prohibition of attack on each other's nuclear facilities and installations. In this context, the recent canard sought to be spread by Pakistan about the possibility of an Indian attack on its nuclear installations was reprehensible. It indicates a mindset which Pakistan must abandon. Attempts to heighten tensions at the border or propaganda by Pakistan are not conducive to building better ties.

Before I conclude, Mr. President, I would like to state that we have consistently maintained that nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament have to be discussed in a global framework and in a comprehensive and non-discriminatory manner. Artificial delimitation and selective and compartmentalised approaches which seek to limit these issues to the so-called 'South Asia' are defective. I have already pointed out that India's security parameters go beyond South Asia. Our concerns in this regard should not be ignored. The Communiqué adopted by the NAM Ministerial Conference at Cartegena recently noted that the present situation whereby nuclear-weapon States insist that nuclear weapons provide unique security benefits, yet monopolize the right to own them, is highly discriminatory, unstable, and cannot be sustained. India remains committed to NAM positions for complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a s[pecified framework of time. India calls on all nuclear-weapon States and indeed the international community to join with it in opening early negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention so that these weapons can be dealt with in a global non-discriminatory framework as the other two weapons of mass destruction have been, through the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention."

Statement by Pakistan

Statement by Ambassador Munir Akram

Mr. President,

This is probably the first special session which the Conference on Disarmament has ever held, and my delegation is very glad that this special session has been devoted to the crisis in South Asia. For many years, Pakistan has been trying to draw the attention of the international community and of this body to the dangers of conflict, including the nuclear threat emanating from India. Therefore, we not only did not object to this specific discussion, as India objected to a special session after its own tests, but we welcomed this special session. We are glad that a full and thorough debate has taken place on all aspects of the situation.

Mr. President,

Pakistan did not instigate or initiate the present security crisis in South Asia. We were obliged by security considerations and national considerations to respond to India's provocative nuclear tests. We are glad this action-reaction sequence has been widely acknowledged in the statements we have heard today.

Mr. President,

India conducted its tests on 11 and 13 May 1998. As we found, these tests were soon followed with provocative statements and threats against Pakistan. These threats culminated in reports of a planned pre-emptive strike against Pakistan's sensitive facilities in the night of 28 May 1998. Others may discount these reports, but Pakistan, which [had] been subjected to Indian aggression on three occasions, could not afford to ignore the credible reports of such strikes that we received on that night, and that night brought to the attention of the world the nature, the depth and the dangers of the crisis in South Asia.

Mr. President,

The nuclear proliferation crisis in South Asia has thus been transformed into a majority [major?] security crisis, and it is this security crisis which the international community must deal with. The Government of Pakistan understands and appreciates the sense of concern in many parts of the international community at the resumption of nuclear testing and the escalation of tensions in South Asia. We fully appreciate the endeavours of world leaders President Clinton of the United States, President Jiang Zemin of the People's Republic of China, Prime Minister Blair of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Hashimoto of Japan and several others who sought personally to convince our Prime Minister and the Government that Pakistan should exercise restraint. We appreciate their efforts. We want to tell them that we gave full consideration to their views. We carefully weighed the factors in favour of and against the conduct of our tests. As the distinguished representative of the United States has noted, we dealt with all our friends honestly. There was no deception. And I wish to address my colleague from Australia in this regard and to say to him that we reject such assertions as he has made about deception.

In this context, let me recall another deception. During the CTBT negotiations, while exhorting France to cease its nuclear testing programme, the former Prime Minister of Australia stated that the process of banning nuclear testing was about stopping countries like Iraq and Pakistan, and therefore France should stop worrying about countries such as Germany. This is not only deception but has a tinge of racism.

Mr. President,

While we appreciate the sentiments that have been expressed, we would urge all our friends to refrain from the use of intemperate language. I want to tell our friends from Canada that when they supplied an unsafeguarded research reactor to India from which fuel was diverted for India's first test explosion, Pakistan did not describe that action as an irresponsible act, although we could have. So, I believe, Mr. President, that we must address this issue with the gravity and seriousness that it deserves, and Pakistan has taken actions with full responsibility and with full knowledge of the costs that were involved.

Our decision to test, Mr. President, became virtually inevitable because of three factors: firstly, the steady escalation in the provocations and threats emanating from India. We were told that India is a nuclear-weapon state. We have just heard that repeated here today. We were told India would use nuclear weapons. We were told that the strategic balance had been altered by India's tests, and now India could teach Pakistan a lesson. We had to take that into account. Secondly, there was the weak and partial response of the world community to India's tests and threats. Obviously, no-one was and no-one is willing to underwrite Pakistan's security. We have to do it ourselves. Therefore, the criticism which has been voiced by some of our friends, who enjoy the NATO security umbrella, of Pakistan's testing, this we believe was not even-handed. The third factor relevant to our decision was the realization that, given the nature of the Indian regime, we could not leave them in any doubt about the credibility of our capability to deter and respond devastatingly to any aggression against our country or pre-emptive against our facilities.

Mr. President,

Pakistan thus took the very difficult, painful decision to respond to India's tests. But the difference between India's and Pakistan's actions is crucial, and we hope that our friends will bear that in mind. India's tests were a provocation. Pakistan's were a reaction. India's tests had destabilised the security balance in South Asia. Pakistan's tests have restabilized the balance of mutual deterrence in South Asia. Pakistan therefore regrets the failure of some of our friends to appreciate this distinction between India's action and our reaction. We believe that the sanctions and other actions that some have taken against Pakistan are unfair and unjust and in the final analysis will prove to be counter-productive.

Mr. President,

Pakistan has welcomed the offer of mediation by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Unfortunately, India has rejected the Secretary-General's mediation. We also welcome the initiative taken by the United States to call for a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the permanent members of the Security Council in Geneva from the day after tomorrow. We look forward to a fair and just conclusion from this meeting, which reflects the realities of the situation.

Mr. President,

Every crisis presents a challenge, but it often also presents an opportunity. This crisis today offers the opportunity for the international community to build a stable structure of peace and security in South Asia through dialogue and consensus. Thus, it is essential that we do not maintain a narrow focus only on the issue of non-proliferation. Peace and security in South Asia must be dealt with in a comprehensive manner.

Mr. President,

The international community now needs to look to the future. We believe there are at least four aspects which need to be addressed: (1) measures to avoid a conflict and ease current tensions; (2) steps to promote nuclear stabilization in South Asia and ensure against further nuclear proliferation; (3) the dangers posed by the imbalance in conventional arms and forces between India and Pakistan; and (4) the need for a resolution of the underlying core dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, a dispute which is at the root of the confrontation between India and Pakistan.

Mr. President,

As regards the avoidance of conflict, it should be clear that the Indian proposal for a no-first use agreement is somewhat disingenuous. Perhaps it is designed to make [it] safe for India to continue to use its conventional weapons superiority to threaten and coerce Pakistan and other smaller neighbours. Pakistan has proposed a more comprehensive non-aggression agreement banning all use or threat of force, as required by the United Nations Charter.

As regards the nuclear issue -- in the short term, at least what is required most is an international consensus on how to stabilise the situation in other words, how to prevent an open nuclear arms race in South Asia. Pakistan is willing to participate in and contribute to international endeavours to achieve such stabilization, to establish what might be called a nuclear-restraint regime in South Pakistan [sic. Webpage note: this is in the original speech as faxed, but we think it was meant to read South Asia here]. Pakistan is not interested in [an] arms race with India, nor is Pakistan seeking nuclear-weapons status. Our tests were defence-oriented and meant to restore strategic balance in the region. We will adjust ourselves in the best interest to Pakistan, as developments in various related areas take place. We will continue to show restraint in the field of weaponization as a mature and responsible nation. Our response will be carefully calibrated to the provocation.

Mr. President,

In this context, we, in Pakistan, cannot ignore that India has declared itself a nuclear-weapon State, declared that it will be placing nuclear warheads on its missiles. It is already deploying nuclear-capable missiles and has threatened to use its nuclear weapons in case of either a conventional or non-conventional conflict. This has been confirmed by the Indian statement made here a few minutes ago. The question arises, Mr. President, does the world accept India as a nuclear-weapon State? And, if it does not, how does the world change the reality of India's nuclear-weapon capabilities? Is the demand for India and also Pakistan to sign the NPT now realistic after their tests, knowing full well that India has refused to sign the NPT for the past 30 years?

Mr. President,

These are relevant questions, but they are extremely relevant for Pakistan. In evaluating our position on the CTBT, it will be important for us to know whether India will continue to conduct further nuclear tests, whether it will be accommodated in the CTBT as a nuclear-weapon State, a non-nuclear-weapon State or as something else. Similarly, as regards the FMCT, for Pakistan, this issue is now dependent on India's nuclear status, its degree of weaponization, and the size and quality of its fissile-material stockpiles. Pakistan cannot afford to allow India to once again destabilize the balance of deterrence in future through asymmetry in the level of fissile-material stockpiles. Likewise, we cannot afford a situation of inferiority in missile capabilities.

Mr. President,

Nevertheless, Pakistan is prepared to consider means for mutual restraint which can help to stabilize the nuclear situation in South Asia. This could be done through existing agreements or through specific measures especially designed for a nuclear-restraint regime in South Asia. This regime could also include measures to insulate the proliferation effect of the recent developments in South Asia on the rest of the world.

Nuclear restraint and balance in South Asia will be made possible if this is accompanied by credible effective measures for greater balance and symmetry in conventional arms capabilities in the region. In this context, we should not ignore the huge arms purchases which India has contracted or is considering from various sources. The Indian defence budget announced today has escalated spending further. Nor can the world ignore that Pakistan's conventional capabilities have been steadily eroded over the years by discriminatory embargoes and restraints.

Mr. President,

Finally, it must be acknowledged that the danger of conflict between Pakistan and India, whether conventional or non-conventional, arises from the underlying dispute over Jammu and Kashmir. It will not be sufficient to ease tensions and sweep this burning problem once again under the carpet. India seeks to portray Kashmir as a problem of terrorism. This carries no credibility. The fact of the matter is that there are 600,000 Indian troops occupying Kashmir, a territory the size of Belgium. There is one Indian soldier for every three Kashmiri men. This is not a problem of terrorism. This is a campaign to suppress the freedom movement of a people which has remained under India's colonial domination for the past fifty years. India must agree to credible steps for a solution of this problem.

Mr. President,

India and Pakistan have been unable to resolve this problem bilaterally for fifty years. It is therefore time that the international community took collective action to try to implement the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. At the very least, it should evolve a political framework within which a solution for Kashmir can be found. It should give active support and impetus to future bilateral negotiations between Pakistan and India on Kashmir. It should now [sic. Webpage note: this is in the original speech as faxed, but we think it was meant to read 'not'] allow India to circumvent genuine negotiations on the Kashmir issue once again.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan has reaffirmed our 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. Last year, India and Pakistan had reached agreement on the modalities for such negotiations. We hope that India will live by that agreement and implement that agreement so that we can resume our talks as soon as possible. We want to defuse regional tension, which can only be achieved by resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. It is therefore incumbent on all those who genuinely want peace to lend their weight to an early settlement on this [sic, these?] basic problems.

Mr. President,

The Conference on Disarmament must play its role in promoting peace and security in South Asia. The CD is in a position to address the problem in South Asia in two ways: firstly, the CD could reach important agreements for genuine movement towards nuclear disarmament. As has been said here, this is a wake-up call for nuclear disarmament. This crisis, if utilized in this way, could contribute to progress in this field. Nuclear disarmament would be a contribution to restraint in South Asia as well. Secondly, the CD could contribute more directly to discussions of the situation in South Asia and try to promote a concept for regional peace and stability, which can be guaranteed or which can be evolved within the framework of a global security environment.

Mr. President,

Pakistan is prepared to co-operate with the international community to arrest the crisis in South Asia and to build a stable structure of peace and security in the region. But let us remember, co-operation and coercion are not mutually compatible.

Statement Delivered by New Zealand on Behalf of 47 States

Statement read by Ambassador Clive Pearson, New Zealand

"I am taking the floor at this Special Session to read into the record a statement from the following Member States and Observers of the Conference on Disarmament:

Australia, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Finland, Austria, Canada, Ukraine, Greece, Slovakia, Sweden, Hungary, Norway, Belarus, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Philippines, Denmark, Italy, Romania, Croatia, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Japan, Malta, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Mongolia, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, France, China, Turkey, Spain, Chile, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ireland, Venezuela, Portugal, Slovenia, Ecuador and Belgium

Mr President, they are alarmed and deeply concerned at nuclear testing by India and Pakistan.

They condemn all nuclear testing and consider such acts to be contrary to the international consensus which bans the testing of nuclear weapons and other explosive devices.

The tests undertaken by India and Pakistan's decision to respond with its own tests blatantly undermine the international regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The actions of India and Pakistan threaten and undermine the process of disarmament and the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons altogether.

The testing of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan is totally irreconcilable with claims by both countries that they are committed to nuclear disarmament.

International security will not be enhanced by provocative and dangerous acts. Nor will regional or global security be improved or maintained by indulging in competitive manoeuvres to further develop nuclear capability and delivery systems. The approach that India and Pakistan seem determined to pursue belongs to a bye-gone age.

Peace in the Asia region is a global concern. Tensions will only be resolved permanently through constructive dialogue and negotiation.

It is now crucial that India and Pakistan announce immediately a cessation to all further testing of these weapons, renounce their nuclear weapons programmes and sign and ratify, unconditionally, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This is a matter of urgency and essential for generating the confidence necessary for security differences to be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.

We also call on India and Pakistan to accede, without delay, to the Non-Proliferation treaty, to join all States in ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and to engage in negotiations to conclude a ban on the production of fissile material. These are further essential steps that should be taken in the process of working collectively and constructively towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

This is a moment for all countries to exercise calm and maximum restraint. We call on India and Pakistan to abandon immediately the course of action they are pursuing and to settle their security concerns and differences through political engagement. Such an approach will have the full support of the international community which is striving towards nuclear disarmament."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

Return to top of page

Return to List of Contents

Return to Acronym Main Page