India Stuns World With
Nuclear Tests - Pakistan
Condemns India
By John Chalmers
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India shook the world Monday with a sudden announcement that it had conducted three underground nuclear tests, its first in 24 years. The government said its blasts, carried out close to the Pakistan border in the desert state of Rajasthan, established that it had proven capability for a weapons program. Islamabad assailed its archfoe over the unexpected experiments, and officials in Washington said the move could perhaps trigger U.S. sanctions on India. China, India's nuclear-armed neighbor to the north, was silent. Foreign experts said the explosions could spark testing by China or Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told a hurriedly summoned news conference that the controlled tests were carried out at 3.45 p.m. (6.15 a.m. EDT) with a fission device, a low-yield device and a thermonuclear device. ``The measured yields are in line with expected values,'' he said in a statement from the lawn of his residence, a national flag standing beside him. ``Measurements have also confirmed that there was no release of radioactivity into the atmosphere.'' The British Geological Survey said its equipment had picked up tremors from the tests measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale -- the equivalent of a light earthquake. The blasts were conducted in Pokhran, an uninhabited area east of the city of Jaisalmer and about 63 miles south of the border with Pakistan. Pokhran was also the site of India's only previous test on May 18, 1974. The Press Trust of India said Monday's test devices were exploded 328 feet below the ground. The tests come seven weeks after the coalition led by Vajpayee's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took power. The BJP made the option to introduce nuclear weapons a key plank of its platform in spring elections, but the government said last month that it would decide whether to build nuclear weapons only after a strategic defense review. The first country to propose a ban on nuclear testing, India has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It says they are discriminatory because they allow a few countries to hold and refine nuclear arms indefinitely with no commitment to disarm, while forcing all others to relinquish nuclear weapons. The nuclear tests follow a spate of controversial comments by Defense Minister George Fernandes on the military threat posed by China. India and China fought a brief border war in 1962, two years before Beijing held its first nuclear test. Many Indian analysts say China's decision to go nuclear spurred New Delhi's test a decade later. Fernandes also reacted sharply last month to an announcement by Pakistan, which has been to war with India three times, that it had test-flown a long-range missile. He accused Beijing, which has long enjoyed a close military relationship with Islamabad, of supplying Pakistan with the missile technology. Pakistan says it is capable of producing nuclear weapons but has never conducted a test. Indian experts gave the tests a rapturous welcome. ``It's wonderful. I am hearing the news just now and I'm speechless,'' said Raja Ramanna, former defense minister and former head of India's Atomic Energy Commission. But Islamabad lashed out at New Delhi, accusing it of sucking Pakistan into a nuclear arms race. ``I condemn this very strongly and the international community and world must condemn this very strongly and put sanctions against India because now they are more or less trying to say 'to hell with you','' Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan told Reuters Television in an interview. In Washington, White House press secretary Mike McCurry said the United States was deeply disappointed by India's decision to conduct tests and said it ran counter to the efforts of the international community to promulgate a comprehensive ban. Officials said senior members of the Clinton administration were scrambling to obtain more information about the tests and were examining U.S. sanctions laws to see if they might apply.
Pakistan Vows To Meet India Nuclear Threat
By Raja Asghar 5-11-98
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan vowed Monday to meet the threat it felt from three nuclear tests by archfoe India and said its defenses would be made impregnable. Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan told parliament that Pakistan, another nuclear threshold power, ``reserves the right to take all appropriate measures for its security.'' ``Such threats will be met by the determination of the Pakistani nation,'' he told the Senate. Khan told reporters the Defense Committee of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's cabinet could decide whether Pakistan should also carry out a nuclear test in response to Monday's Indian explosions near Pakistan's border. Asked by reporters if Pakistan would respond to the Indian tests in the same manner, Khan said: ``It's not for me to say. It is for the Defense Committee of the cabinet to decide.'' ``They should be condemned very, very strongly and India has forced the subcontinent into an arms race, to a nuclear weaponry race and missile race,'' he told Reuters Television earlier. ``Pakistan reserves the right to take all appropriate measures for its security,'' Khan said in a brief statement to the Senate (upper house) almost five hours after India carried out the tests in the Rajasthan western desert. He said Sharif, who was due to return home late at night after attending a summit in Kazakhstan, had assured Pakistanis that the country's ``defense would be made impregnable against any Indian threat, be it nuclear or conventional.'' Chiefs of the armed forces, who have a great say in Pakistan's nuclear program, are also represented on the Defense Committee. ``Pakistan has taken absolutely necessary steps for its defense and security,'' the official APP news agency quoted army chief General Jahangir Karamat as telling reporters at a diplomatic reception Monday evening. Senate Opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan said the Indian tests were a threat to the security of not only Pakistan but the whole of South Asia. ``India has propelled South Asia into a total and perhaps irreparable imbalance,'' he said, and promised that the opposition would go ``an extra mile'' if the government came out with a policy of consensus to meet the challenge. ``If India has carried out three nuclear tests, Pakistan should carry out 30 tests,'' another opposition senator, Iqbal Haider, said. Khan regretted that Pakistan's reminders in the past to the international community, particularly the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, about India's nuclear plans ``did not receive the attention that they merited.'' ``The responsibility for dealing a death blow to the global efforts at nuclear non-proliferation rests squarely with India.'' The tests were staged one month after Pakistan test-fired the ``Ghauri'' medium-range missile which, it said, would be a deterrent to India's arsenals. Pakistan has said in the past that it can make nuclear weapons but has taken a policy decision not to do so and will not sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty unless India does the same.

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