News


[EXCERPTS]


                           THE WHITE HOUSE

                    Office of the Press Secretary
______________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                            May 11, 1998     

             
                         PRESS BRIEFING BY 
               NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER,
           CHAIRMAN OF THE ECONOMIC COUNCIL GENE SPERLING,
               AND DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT 
            FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS JIM STEINBERG 
                                  
             
The Briefing Room 
                  
                                                                     



2:50 P.M. EDT




..............


         
             Q    Tell us what the danger is, as the United States 
sees it, is in India's conducting these nuclear tests.
             
             MR. BERGER:  We are deeply disappointed by India's 
decision to test nuclear weapons, at least by its own announcement.  
Our position has been very clear.  We have urged countries to 
exercise restraint in the testing of nuclear weapons -- either 
countries that are declared nuclear powers, or countries that are 
not.  We have ourselves, along with the other five declared nuclear 
states, stopped nuclear testing.  We have signed the CTBT.  And we 
think this is an unfortunate development. 


             Q    Is this because of India's historical fear of 
Pakistan?  Is that what is driving these tests? 

             MR. BERGER:  Well, there are always regional contexts in 
which arms races take place, but in our judgment we do not think that 
that justifies this step. 

             Q    How about the missiles testing?

             MR. BERGER:  We would like to see restraint on the part 
of India and on the part of Pakistan both with respect to its nuclear 
weapons programs and with respect to its ballistic missile programs. 

             Q    There was no forewarning?  Have you had an 
indication -- 

             MR. BERGER:  We have made known to the Indians -- we 
have made it quite clear to the Indians that we would strongly urge 
them not to undertake such a test. 

             Q    Their response?  Might they now draw back and not 
do the test?

             MR. BERGER:  Well, we would hope that they would not 
undertake any further tests, and we would hope that this would not 
provoke a new round of escalation.

             Q    How about sanctions?

             MR. BERGER:  There are U.S. laws that operate in this 
field that apply to so-called non-declared nuclear states.  We will 
examine those laws very carefully in the context of the reported 
actions today and we will obviously enforce our laws.
             
             Q    You said just now reported actions, you said, at 
least by its own announcement.  Is there any doubt on the part of the 
U.S. government that they did, indeed, test three nuclear weapons?
             
             MR. BERGER:  We don't have any independent confirmation 
as of this point of it, David, but they have so stated.  We have no 
reason to believe that they haven't.
             
             Q    You mentioned the arms race.  Is that what this is 
now?  Is there now an arms race between --
             
             MR. BERGER:  There has been in South Asia and in the 
larger region a dynamic of proliferation that has gone on for over 20 
years.  This didn't start today.  We have tried over the years, as 
have previous administrations, to urge restraint.  In some cases, we 
have been successful, in some cases we haven't.  We will continue to 
work toward that goal.
             
             Q    Does India's decision put at risk the President's 
plans to travel to India?
             
             MR. BERGER:  We have no plans -- we don't plan to change 
our plans.  That's poor grammar.  Our plans remain unchanged.  I 
think it remains important, Susan, that we continue our dialogue with 
Pakistan, with India.  There is an enormous amount -- India, for 
example, and the United States are the two largest democracies in the 
world.  There is an enormous amount of common interests that we have.  
But I think we have a better chance at de-escalating or at least 
slowing these kinds of actions if we remain engaged than if we don't. 


             Q    Mr. Berger, you mentioned that would enforce U.S. 
laws, but is the U.S. considering any further sanctions against 
India, other than -- 

             MR. BERGER:  There are laws that pertain to these kinds 
of matters, some of which do involve sanctions.  No determination has 
been made.  We are reviewing those laws to determine what the facts 
are, what the law is, and whether the law applies to these facts.