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Disarmament Groups Condemn Indian N-Tests

NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 1998
CONTACT: Daryl Kimball, (202) 546-0795, extension 136

(May 11, 1998, WASHINGTON, DC) Following the announcement today by recently-elected Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that India has conducted three nuclear weapon tests, experts from a coalition of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation organizations condemned the Indian government's action and urged restraint by India's neighbor, Pakistan. Vajpayee said that the devices tested were a fission device, a low-yield device and a thermonuclear device. India first conducted a nuclear test in 1974.

"We strongly condemn India's decision to conduct nuclear tests and urge Pakistan to exercise the utmost restraint so that the escalation of nuclear tensions is South Asia is not taken to higher and more dangerous levels," said Robert K. Musil, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

"India's decision to resume nuclear weapons testing underscores the necessity of global adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and swift U.S. Senate approval of the Treaty," said Tom Z. Collina, Director of Arms Control and International Security Programs at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"It is unclear whether this is the starting point of an Indian nuclear build-up or a last flurry of tests before signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," said Christopher Paine, Senior Research Associate at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Treaty, which bans all "nuclear weapon test explosions and all other nuclear explosions," has been signed by 149 countries, including the five declared nuclear weapon states. So far, India and Pakistan have refused to sign the Treaty. Thirteen countries have ratified, including Britain and France.

The Treaty would make it much harder for countries to produce new and more threatening types of nuclear weapons. The Treaty would also help prevent nuclear proliferation because it would prevent nations seeking nuclear arms like Iran and Iraq from making smaller nuclear warheads, which are more easily deliverable by ballistic missiles.

Earlier this year, the President called on the Senate to approve the CTBT in 1998. However, Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so far has refused to hold hearings on the Treaty. He suggests that the U.S. should resume nuclear testing. In January, a Helms spokesperson said "Chairman Helms has been supportive of the need for nuclear testing ...."

"The days of nuclear testing should be over -- nuclear arms races undermine the security of all nations. India's provocative and dangerous nuclear test decision should be met with universal condemnation and renewed efforts by all nations to draw down nuclear tensions and nuclear arsenals," said Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers.

For more information on nuclear testing and the Test Ban Treaty, see the Coalition's web site at: <http://www.clw.org/org/pub/clw/coalition/ctbindex.htm>