News

Physicians for Social Responsibility Denounces Indian Nuclear Test

P R E S S  R E L E A S E
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 1998

Contact: 	Robert W. Tiller, 202-898-0150, ext. 220 
		Sharon Pickett, 301-365-9307

The world was shocked to learn that India performed three nuclear tests today. Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) strongly denounces this dangerous and irresponsible act and calls on India to refrain from further nuclear testing.

"India's decision to test encourages countries such as Pakistan to enter the nuclear arms race and undermines the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty now observed by 185 countries," said Robert K. Musil, Ph.D., Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "This action will undoubtedly spur some misguided U.S. legislator to advocate a resumption of U.S. testing just when we should be moving full speed ahead with ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty."

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a global agreement to ban testing of nuclear weapons, has been signed by 149 countries and ratified by thirteen. The United States is a signatory but has not ratified it. "Our nation should be demonstrating international leadership by ratifying the CTBT this summer," said Robert W. Tiller, PSR’s Director of Security Programs.

The CTBT would help to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and curtail the development of new types of weapons by both nuclear and non-nuclear states. The treaty is verifiable, providing for an on-site inspection system as well as a sophisticated network of air, water and ground-based monitoring stations that would be capable of detecting nuclear test explosions anywhere in the world.

Opponents of the CTBT claim that we need to test nuclear bombs in order to ensure the reliability of our nuclear arsenals. But non-explosive tests and inspections are more than adequate to ensure the safety and reliability of existing weapons. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and four of his predecessors have all endorsed ratification of the CTBT and confirmed that CTBT implementation would not diminish national security.

Despite widespread public support for the CTBT, Senator Jesse Helms has blocked CTBT hearings in the Senate and appears determined to prevent the U.S. from ratifying this important treaty. Senator Helms and his supporters may try to use India's nuclear test as one more delaying tactic to stall action on CTBT.

"In addition to escalating the arms race, today's nuclear explosion threatens the health and safety of the entire international community," said Dr. Musil. "The Indian government claims that its test posed no threat to the environment. But nuclear explosions, even when they are conducted underground, release deadly radioactive materials into the atmosphere and water table, posing health risks for generations to come. A recent report by the National Cancer Institute reveals that radioactive fallout from nuclear testing in the 1950s and early '60s resulted in severe health consequences for millions of Americans."

Physicians for Social Responsibility is an organization of health care professionals and others working to end nuclear testing and abolish nuclear weapons. It is the U.S. affiliate ofInternational Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.

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