Sunday, April 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India’s stand on NPT conceded
Major shift in US thinking

WASHINGTON, April 22 (PTI, UNI) — In a major shift in US thinking on India’s nuclear programme, a top non-proliferation official has conceded New Delhi could not be expected to join the NPT unless its relations with both China and Pakistan improve.

Pakistan, by contrast, can afford to give up its nuclear weapons before India and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if its relations with New Delhi become cordial like those between Canada and USA, the country’s official negotiator at the UN review meet on NPT, Mr Herman Wulf, said in an interview published yesterday ahead of the conference, which opens in New York tomorrow.

“One could clearly envisage a situation in which Pakistan would be prepared to surrender its nuclear weapons if Indo-Pakistani relations were like US-Canadian relations,” Mr Wulf said in an interview to US Information Agency.

As for New Delhi, he said, “If India and China were to resolve “whatever differences India believes may exist, one at least should be able to envisage a situation in which it is prepared to surrender its nuclear weapons.”

Stating that China is a “complicating factor” in South Asia, Mr Wulf said India “claims” it needs nuclear weapons to counter the “Chinese threat”.

“Whatever the reality is, that ends up in making it a three-cornered shot... and that in turn makes it much more difficult to see how one can get these two countries (India and Pakistan) to surrender their weapons,” he added.

The USA is making efforts at getting the two countries to stop where they are in terms of weapons of mass destruction and to begin addressing the problems that they have so that India and Pakistan no longer have the reason to feel threatened, he said, adding President Bill Clinton’s visit to South Asia last month was part of the effort to normalise ties between the two neighbours.

Mr Wulf said USA wants the NPT review conference to deal with the India-Pakistan issue and call upon both countries to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1172.

The resolution, adopted soon after the Indian and Pakistani tests in May 1998, sets forth a series of steps that the Security Council believes the two neighbours should take to de-escalate nuclear tensions, and ultimately become parties to the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states.

The US Secretary of State, Ms Madeleine Albright, will lead the US delegation to the opening session on Monday, the day the USA will release a report defending its position on nuclear disarmament, which is expected to come under attack from countries without nuclear weapons.

The conference is for the five-yearly review of the NPT.

India, Pakistan, Israel and Cuba are not party to the 1968 treaty subscribed by over 180 countries.

With practically no movement towards nuclear disarmament by the countries possessing nuclear arms, a major row is shaping up between nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states.

The non-nuclear weapon states will vehemently demand that nuclear weapon states show tangible movement towards disarmament, rethinking of the NATO strategy on the first use of nuclear weapons and stationing of such arms on the territory of non-nuclear weapon states and provide safeguards for them.

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