BY MAURICE WILLIAMS
The seven-week-old government of India conducted three underground nuclear explosions May 11, including a hydrogen bomb. Two days later, in defiance of Washington's announced sanctions, the rightist government exploded two more nuclear bombs underground. The blasts came a month after the government of Pakistan tested a ballistic missile capable of striking India's major cities. "Indian scientists will put a nuclear warhead on missiles as soon as the situation requires, said Murli Manohar Joshi, minister of science and technology.
According to the New York Times, U.S. government officials said May 13 that the Pakistani government is preparing to conduct an underground nuclear test as early as May 17. "Indian actions, which pose an immediate and grave threat to Pakistan's security, will not go unanswered," said Pakistani foreign minister Gohar Ayub Khan.
"Our position has always been if India tests, we will follow suit," declared Rifaat Hussain, a Pakistani scientist and former diplomat. "You have a missile race going on, and now you have a nuclear race going on." The governments of Pakistan and India have fought wars against each other three times since 1947 in the dispute over the region of Kashmir. Both possess fighter bombers capable of delivering atomic bombs.
The day after the nuclear blasts U.S. president William Clinton announced that Washington would impose sanctions against India, including barring U.S. banks from making loans to the Indian government and opposing all loans from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. These measures are supposedly stipulated in the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act, a U.S. law signed by the U.S. president in 1994. Clinton called on New Delhi to sign "now and without conditions" the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty endorsed by 149 governments in 1996, which supposedly bars the creation and testing of all nuclear weapons. The Pakistani regime and New Delhi have rejected the treaty.
Clinton signed the 1996 treaty, but a document released last year revealed that the Pentagon has been remaking thermonuclear weapons, including missile-, air-, and submarine-delivered warheads. Washington claims these are simply upgrades of existing devices, and therefore not covered under the test ban.
The Indian government stated it would consider adopting the treaty, if it was revised to set a deadline for all nations to eliminate nuclear weapons and outlaw computer- simulated tests. These conditions have been rejected by Washington, the biggest nuclear power and only government to ever use atomic weapons against human beings.
Beijing, which fought a border war with India in 1962, released a statement May 12 saying it was "seriously concerned about the nuclear test conducted by India."
The Russian government opposed actions taken by the Clinton administration against New Delhi. "I don't think we shall support any sanctions against India," Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov asserted on national television May 12.
"India is a very good friend of ours," said Russian
president Boris Yeltsin. "During my visit to India this
year, I shall make every effort to overcome the problem."
U.S. federal cop agencies claim Moscow has assisted the
Indian military with developing a sea-launched missile for
at least three years, which the Russian government denies.
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